Poetry about Northrop Camp
by Harvey J. Gardner

Harvey Gardner Harvery Gardner was a camper in 1943 and 1946.
More of Harvey's poems
More Northrop poems

(All poems are reproduced with permission of the poet.)

The Woods

The rain rich strong damp smells composting leaves and
branches felled by windstorm ice and snowfall breakoffs
unfurled fiddleheads and furry moss the lichen flowerlettes
and pods so perfect and petite the clefted rocks so dark
inside seen only by the few who get in close the canopy a
wildly woven puzzle no two pairs of eyes see quite alike the
stroboscopic sunlit flickerings like movies only far more
bright in every way the squirrels efts and snakes and what
was that a sudden rustling by a bird misleading you to think
its nest is over there my footsteps crunch or grate or squish
or slice or slip or plod or scrape or slide no purchase for my
city shoes the birds they dart like chipmunks perch and sing
so rivals know to stay away but anyway their songs take
turns to twitter screech or silver whistle pure in melancholy
minor key or rusty hinge or miew or chortle chatter and now
I see a flower yellow and inside it's black a bee knows what
to do and in its busyness it doesn't care for you the sulphur
shelf on rotted log the indian pipes and chanterelles
applauded by the bash-bish falls the pool with water striders
darting fry the rivulets and eddys forced by rocks the bubble
clearness makes you want to drink and swim until it's dark
when air is cooled and here the damp grass clearing crickets
echo there's the dipper and the milky way and sirius whoa
did you catch that shooting star and soon the moon is up
and just enough to reassure my hesitating footsteps on the
path back home.

The Wash House

wash house

Brown, old, small,
Damp wood flooring
Bouncing with our steps
Slop sink along each wall
Stained with toothpaste
And rinsing cups.
The one window viewing
Marsh life noisy-green
Mt. Everett above the reeds,
And mercifully mindless of us,
Ruby throated hummingbirds.

The Well

A well? No,
A hole in the grass
Around 5 feet across
Cold Water for dipping
Dodging water striders
Our tin cups waiting
Among the touch-me-nots.
Our counselor said,
"The Health Department
"Comes each year
"To find that something's
"Wrong with it but their
"Analysis always shows
"The water is just fine!"

Mt. Everett

Like worshippers we gazed upon it,
Drawing tablets on our laps,
Sketching one scene--
The water hole,
The wash house behind it
And, seizing the horizon,
Mount Everett,
Its smoky green summit's
Seeming small steel fire tower
Searching for smoke.
Days later
We hiked the thirsty roads
To that mountain.
Fortified with trailside blueberries
And egg salad sandwiches,
Flushed with canteen water,
We climbed the fire tower,
Looking far down
To turn our drawings
Inside out.

The Rabbit Killer

Long before Jimmy Stewart and Harvey
I was bound to rabbits.
Our pails of blue berries
Swinging through grasses,
Our shoes buffed and polished
By swishing the tufts,
Suddenly, under my foot
Shrill squealing -- and there
A baby rabbit broken leg
And I crushed too.
We tried to feed it milk.
And when it died the kids sang,
"Harvey, the rabbit killer!"
Thank you Mary Chase and Jimmy
For bonding us forever.

And Now

I have become a well.
A water wholly yours
For kneeling down
And dripping dripping
Cool and wet refreshed.

I have become a wash house.
My wondrous window
Opening to nature's buzz,
A marsh mallow hummer hangout
To hover-nurse on nectar.

I have become Mt. Everett.
Risen, comfortable, silent
My fire tower yours for seeing far.

I have become a rabbit.
Smooth muscled milk snake, indian pipe,
Undulating goldfinch, peeling paper birch,
Towhee, quaking aspen, daddy-long-legs,
Saffron cap moss dust, proud puff ball,
Spore scattering Christmas fern,
Hermit thrush singing silvery sad song,
Free wild strawberries in pungent right field,
Borrowed box turtle, garter snake,
Sweet soft red eft on drizzle day damp,
Hatpin head tracking moon shadow,
Pregnant pods of touch-me-not
Leaves turned silver in the stream
And bunny eyes to see you seeing me.

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