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At the Site of Thoreau’s Cabin

Close to its chimney remains, a rock pile is still
being built, word-by-word, by Thoreau’s
foragers — stones painted with lofty quotations by
Emerson, with lifespans of the long-ago gone,
with squirreling graffiti on the red hearts of young lovers.
In my hand, not one chosen lodestone to add
to this heap. In my pocket, no black-capped marker.
I entered this forest, circled Walden Pond
without knowing what the script
on striped chipmunks crossing my path
could have told me : here is a clearing
requiring lines more essential than
timber burning on a hearth, more lasting
than wooden desks or chairs. Or homemade pencils.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

2 responses »

  1. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction ~
    Statements in this poem are autobiographically accurate. Last week, I walked around Walden Pond and discovered the famous rockpile a few feet away from the site of Thoreau’s cabin. I noted the writings on the rocks left by visitors : graffiti, quotations, carvings on memorial stones. While walking around the pond, several chipmunks crossed my path. Later, entering the cabin replica which is located elsewhere in the park, I read about the hearth, the desk, and the chairs in Thoreau’s dwelling. He once worked in a pencil business.
    Sound & Sense ~
    My sister (who lives near Walden Pond) tells me that “Thoreau” is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, not the second. Hence, the phrase “Thoreau’s / foragers” repeats a first-syllable accent. I play the sound of “essential” off the sound of “pencils,” trying to decide how far apart or close together those two words should be for best listening effect. I play also with the rhythm of the last line, deciding that short sentence fragments sound best. I also choose the first word of the poem, “close,” for how it sounds with the word “Thoreau” in the title, preferrring “close” over its alternative, “nearby.” The imagery is clustered around writing : painted words, graffiti, marker, stripes on chipmunks, chairs for desks, lines, pencils.


  2. I liked your poem. It was very familiar and very artistic at the same time. Actually quite moving. Nice details. I wrote a poem about swimming in the pond in July 2009. I’ll send it to you if you like.


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