Monday, June 20, 2005

A Song for St. Mary's: A Poetic MapII. Processional

What and where is Green Pond exactly?

Above Big Levels, the last sandstone foothill
jammed against the mountain’s toe so seamless
only geologists can differentiate
between it and the granite thrown over,
fruit of the Allegheny Orogeny:

The crest of the Blue Ridge and Green Pond.
An anomaly just above the levels,
perched water on perhaps the finest perch,
emerald jewel sunk in blue haze looking
outward to Shenandoah and downward
over long miles to Chesapeake Bay.

The bog seldom holds much water here
in this accidental aquifer lying
over a shale depression uncommon
in this range where igneous usurps
sediments with the tumult forgotten
(Only Atlantic's deep ocean knowledge
recalls Iapetus closed and plates crash).

Down a bit, orogenically tossed strata
still predominate the union of gullies
and springs into stream, the birth
of a saint.
                   Epochs of less resistant
rock carried grain by erosive grain
to seas past and present sculpted its course
even at this height. Hydrologic cycle:
it repeats and repeats anew: rain falls
and follows tracks long established--
drops cleave together to make a river
anew, for other waters are flowing on.

On the western shoulder of Flint Mountain--
elevation 3,400 feet
thereabouts--the prospects are gentle,
a good nursery for a nascent stream.

Mountain laurel and rhodedendron hem
either side, their blossomed limbs arch over
to meet just above the bed, entwined
fingers forming a newly leafy
canopy shading water, temperatures
plenty cool for brook trout fry to find home.
Before the branch is too old, while it jumps
over the smaller outcrops, Hogback Creek
leaps to join it from many feet above
cascading over outcropped charnockite,
a fall unheralded by any map,
and the river enters into the light
fully for the first time since its head.
It acquires its own flung branches; they meet
the St. Mary's in downward succession:
  Hogback Creek runs down into
                                                Chimney Branch
    Which in its turn meets another,
                                                   Bear Branch
         (at mines) then tames to marry
                                                    Mine Bank Creek
                 Joined at first crossing by
                                                  Sugartree Branch,
waters mingling with each next confluence.
And after the River has fled the gate
of Cellar Mountain's stony crest
and the grand prospect from Little Spy
a last thrall pays fluid tribute,
                                                 Spy Run
and it sneaks into the Shenandoah
shedding its name after such a journey
for a longer pilgrimage in older streams
past Buena Vista and Glasgow, Lynchburg,
Then Richmond and Williamsburg passed.
Jamestown, Portsmouth and the mouth of the James
at last steal by, and the waters parade
under and over I-64
to Chesapeake Bay only to mingle
with brethren born but one ridge north.

Previous Entries:
I. Prelude

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