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Writing the Land 2021 Book

We’re pleased to share the 2021 edition of Writing the Land is now available for purchase! The anthology is a project of NatureCulture in collaboration with land trusts including Northeast Wilderness Trust. The foreword is written by Northeast Wilderness Trust Senior Fellow Tom Butler.

Writing the Land pairs poets with conserved lands to give voice to the spirit, solace, and wildness therein. You can get a sampling of the poems inspired by Northeast Wilderness Trust’s four Ambassador Preserves below. Order your copy of Writing the Land here as a gift for yourself or a loved one to bring a little piece of the wild home with you!

Find out more in this recent story by Maine Public News Service.

Please note that we cannot guarantee delivery by the holidays.

Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve

North Side of the Juniper

by Rachelle Parker

Look for the half frozen pond.
Moss will be damp on the north side of the juniper.

There will be birds and otters and snakes,
singing your arrival, chirping and splashing and slithering.

Stems and twigs in their mouths to build a dam,
follow the beaver until he disappears

behind a waterfall. It will be dry there.
The darkness of a cave will cradle you,

move you to tears and sleep.
A peek of morning lights your way through dewed grasses

to the blueberries. Fill your kerchief with their wildness.
Munch these new fruits, let their juices

run through your raisin’d skin until plump.
You bursting at the seams and left bare.

Go when the silver fins beckon you.
They know how deep down the earth is.
They have laid eggs there.

Slowly enter the pond. Slowly dip your head
under. Slowly release the dust from bitter
wounds, from thick keloids at the wrists
and ankles, from the mark under your eye
left by a fetterbush.

Cleansed, sit on the bank, look at your reflection
See the return of the gazelle.

Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve

One Myotis Lucifugus

by Sylvia Karman

Lone mouse-eared brown bat
skirrs dusk, feeding on echoes.
Absence chases her.
Beneath her mammalian wings
trail cauldrons of white-nosed ghosts.

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve

Alder Stream

by David Crews 

Castanea dentata—American chestnut

My steps bushwhacking here are delicate for these
chestnut trees are not big

leaves now quite familiar: elongated, serrated, still
very green

I see them everywhere scattered about the dense
forest illumined in pockets of sunlight

what if I did not know to maneuver the burrs?

What living creatures does each step press into
the earth?

How obvious this love for birds someone once said
—they need no trails

to be feather-light and adrift to thermals

I could love the mutilated world

The chestnut contains over 30,000 genes of DNA—
researchers want to give it one

peacekeeping enzyme that protects the tree from
a harmful acid

I look on Alder stream and its beaver dams and wonder

which trees are mountain alder, which are speckled

these woods speak a language of water and light

and I yearn to translate what’s lost

where to praise means to save, and to preserve keeps
trees from dying

still, I know so little of life’s reckonings

The memory of what we found shapes me still

black spruce, eastern hemlock, American chestnut

Muddy Pond Wilderness Preserve

Hum a Home

by Kathleen Kremins

Much is made of late winter
light how the angle
of March sun darkens the sky
into azure blue
so diving into the pine
forest splashes solitude
reflected off Muddy Pond.
On next visit, Spring
will perform Her symphony
opening sonata accompanied
by toads, frogs, insects
salamanders in vernal
pools, then andante
gentle emergence
wildflowers, painted turtles.

But for today, long shadows
of winter are my companions.
The sound of my boots
on fallen needles, pine cones, rocks
mud, oak leaves under stubborn snow.
The pond glimmer stops me
frozen with stillness, then
the beating of my heart
rhythm of my breath.
When you hear the quiet
don’t fill it with words
or noise. Let the geese call
and the wind answer.
Gather the notes inside where
silent nature hums a home.

Photography: Binney Pond, George Carmichael | Eagle Mountain, Zack Porter | Alder Stream, Shelby Perry | Muddy Pond, Harry White