Arts & Culture · Poetry

Poetry Sunday: Found in a Forest

Today we watch and listen as poet Cris Mulvey takes us on a long walk through her past and into a forest where instead of darkness she finds light. Summer is a time for sitting outside and listening to stories. Here is a beautiful one well worth hearing.



My mother was capable of laughter alone in her kitchen
listening to the radio, or out of doors in the back garden
when the sun was out and she was gathering lilac and a neighbor
greeted her across the wall and they would chat–she liked that.

Or occasionally at dinner, when my brother dared to tell a joke,
a laugh might momentarily escape her and she would click her tongue,
shake her head, sit up straight, staring down, determined to avoid
my father’s eyes–his slightest glance enough to freeze her.

But never–ever–in public.

In this alone she was like my father for whom laughter
seemed a kind of rude exposure, like brushing one’s teeth
in the living room or farting even, something to be
hidden, regretted, a kind of misbehavior.

In our house, where blinds were seldom opened, joy was a guilty
secret–never shared–a dark and misplaced urge in a world
of suffering, a rip in the cloth of service, a tear in the mask of
Catholic sobriety and compassion, an entirely solitary indulgence,

private and requiring penance.

So this morning came as a shock almost wandering the emerald
folds of forest burst apart by wild insistent waterfalls of birdsong,
wild cascading trill of river, its beer-brown skin lovelied with the flecks
of its own mad passion for the sea–nothing private about it!–

such uninhibited spring of forest–zing of insect,
shredded cloud, unleashed flower,
thrusting tree, wet unfurling leaves,

and my own relentless glee, locked behind the boulders
of my past, pulling, pushing, finally finding
its own way out.

                                    Published with the poet’s permission


CrisCris Mulvey was born and raised in Ireland. She immigrated to Montana at the age of 40 to “embark on a heroine’s quest for a deeper, more soulful life by immersing herself in solitude and wild nature.” She found her gift for writing poetry as she continued her quest in America’s West. After 16 years that included breast cancer and chronic illness, she says, she has “gained a body of values and principles, rooted in soul and spirit” that now guide her journey into the second half of her life.

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