Wilmoth Foreman


I am From...

May 17, 2016

Tags: Poetry

I occasionally write poetry. Here’s one that, in a recent workshop, began as a response to a prompt:
I am from…
Wilmoth Foreman

I am from trees, from black curtains of rain
moving toward us across the distant railroad tracks

I am from the dense, sweet smell of cow feed,
from the snake across the barn path,
from shoveling manure and knowing its worth

From hands bloodied by quarrelsome setting hens
who, with sharp angry beaks, protect
the warm eggs beneath their ruffled feathers

I am from a world where the supper chicken had a name,
where I hated the geese who nipped, hissed, and
flailed their wings, hating me back with a pure holy hate

I am from goat kids squirming happy under each arm,
from tender new honeysuckle tips
that disappeared into their nibbling mouths

from onion sets meant for planting in the garden
but dipped in a premeditated fistful of salt
and languidly eaten beneath the all-seeing cedar

I am from picnics under silent pasture hardwoods,
from puppies and kittens born harum-scarum, out of range
of pamphlets preaching ‘spay’ and ‘neuter’

from little unseen animals scurrying through night-lives
inside bedroom walls, falling with grunts and oooffs
when their scrabbly feet outran them

I am from asparagus fern and rosebud corsages
pinned on scratchy piano recital dresses

from giggles with girls as we leapt and climbed
on the big eternal rocks waiting behind the barn
that centered the world I am from.

J. B.’s Carving Tree

March 4, 2016

Tags: Summer of the Skunks, Outdoors

During one episode in Summer of the Skunks, Calvin and Jill Clark harbor a down-on-his-luck family friend, J. B. Walker.
Whenever Jill can get away unnoticed, she joins J.B. in the pasture at his ‘carving tree,’ hoping he’s in a storytelling mood. She is seldom disappointed.
Long after the novel was published and making its way in the world, I began to wonder if the tree I had created on paper (actually, at keyboard) might really exist. The only way to satisfy that curiosity was to, well, seek out such a tree.
I expected the quest to be long-lived. But during my next walk in a nearby park, a couple of the trees I often passed, if viewed through a forgiving lens, were facsimiles of the fictional one.
To settle for either, however, diminished the challenge.
Gas prices were falling, and our county was not yet totally entombed in pavement. I’d search high and low, near and far…
Around the next bend, there it stood — tall, full-leafed, roots sprawling above-ground — J.B.’s carving tree.
The emerging visual was even easier to see than the tree. There on the biggest root sat J.B.in scuffed up but clean brogan shoes, khakis, a gently fading blue shirt with sleeves rolled to his elbows, his carving knife making slow steady passes along the chunk of wood in his left hand.
Across from him on a smaller root, Jill leaned toward J. B.’s story. Her left hand idly patted Calvin’s old dog Bo, whose likeness was emerging beneath J.B.’s knife strokes.
Look carefully at the tree roots pictured above. Your mind's eye will likely picture J.B. and Jill, as mine did.