White Woods by Barbara Sorensen

White Woods

after Girl In the White Woods by Van Gogh

I was lost in white woods
once when there was no moon
or sun to guide. Here, among the oak trees,
absorbed in the industry
of creatures
that created the russet
ground covering of midden,
I forget everything.
Yellow cross vines twine
the tree branches
forming asemic patterns.

Delicate song patterns
of bluethroats
and warblers break through
the uneven white light
of still-dense, late-summer foliage.
I find wild blackberries, rowan berries,
stuff them like a child into my mouth,
press my tongue down
to release the slightly bitter juice,
and just as I swallow,
taste the beginning of their honeyed pulp.

There is no wind and the sound
of my breathing is like a loosened thread
from my heart. I give myself to this forest.
Then I see the burl that has burst
through the hard bark of an oak
and touch it with the tips
of my fingers to remind
myself of the solidity of its malignancy.

There is no sudden experience.
Decomposition is so quiet
and has its own incense:
an intimacy of rotting bones,
damp feathers, burnt weeds.
I try hard to push them away,
find my own way out
of the white woods.

Barbara Sorensen’s questions:

Does this poem hang together well enough?
What about the format? Are certain lines too long or too short?
Are my line breaks appropriate?
Does the imagery work?

Barbara Sorensen’s blog is:  http://pinewoodasylum.blogspot.com

Facebook name:  Barbara Sorensen

Reply directly to the poet:  bellenwrites (at) gmail (dot) com


  1. Raven Garland  •  Jul 14, 2010 @4:41 pm

    Nice poem. I will send a richer reply to the poet via email. Nice website.

  2. Paulette Johnson  •  Dec 7, 2010 @7:35 pm

    Hi, Barbara –

    Yes, in my opinion this “hangs together.” You have some wonderful imagery – rotting bones, damp feathers, burnt weeds. Your “Decomposition … has its own incense:” is good, but I think you don’t need the “is so quiet and…” The main problem I see with this excellent exercise is the fact that you are telling the reader, instead of showing the reader. I will send more to your email.

    Good work, and enjoyable read.

    Blessings, Paulette

  3. Carola Sautter  •  Mar 19, 2012 @4:29 pm

    This poem is very, very well-done. i stumbled on the word “asemic’ == sorry, don’t know it. there are a couple of line breaks that maybe you might re-work — but really, tis is so good. I aspire to get there. ( Oh,and while I intellectually love “the solidity of its malignancy,” I kind of want less abstraction there.)



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