Issue > Poetry
Robin Chapman

Robin Chapman

Robin Chapman is author of eight books, most recently the eelgrass meadow (2011) and One Hundred White Pelicans (2013) from Tebot Bach. She is recipient of the 2010 Appalachia Poetry Prize.

Mapping The Marquette County Hill

On the forty acres of sandy hill, century-aged,
remnant-sown, John Muir's boyhood footprints
crossed the sand blow, following bees, or so
I like to think; though it might have been only
the crest of the hill he crossed, through the oak,
or the turkeyfoot and little bluestem ranks
that wave there now. Small orchids, earthstars,
goldenrod and blazing star were found in the sand
blow, and under our shelter at the top of the hill
our own sons dug in the dirt, hammered nails,
grew to build their own skateboard ramp and hang
in the sky like the hawk's brief survey. And here's
the path I wandered with my field guide, learning
namesóten new species flowering every weekó
here's the place the hairy puccoon bloomed, there
the pussytoe patch, the hawkweed acres;
and here's the place we put the bench, sightline
into Wisconsin thunderstorms, moving opposite
to lower clouds, and here's the east toward which
the bluestems bowed; its coordinates include
the firepitómarked 'kitchen', on our map; the path
through the woods to the three-sided outhouse,
the other path to back bedroomóAdirondack
shelter where we slept to the insistent voices
of the whippoorwills, the bark of fox and coyote.
Mark the foxóit had a den in the woods. And mark
the whippoorwillsówe saw one once on a limb,
its legs so weak you could scarcely see them;
and mark the trail where the ladies-slippers bloomed,
past the outhouse. Mark the locust woods to the west,
oak and hickory woods to north; question mark
for where the owl lived, nightly questioning us. Here
we found the webs of the writing and funnel
spiders, and here the walking-stick. Say that this
was the map of our days. Say that we too walked
here once, if the barred owl asks you.

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