New England is full of old stone walls: walls that seem to appear from nowhere and go nowhere. They have been overrun by new growths of oak and maple, and lilac bushes and poison ivy.
It is a testament that much of northern New England has returned from farm and dairy land to the wooded hills and valleys that preceded settlement.
It is also a message to all of us who live under the delusion that man somehow rules the earth.
The stone walls each tell a story of a family that worked to bring nature under control. The energy to clear fields and build walls demonstrates the work ethic of our early settlers, and is certainly a contributor to the character and independence that seemed to define our citizens. And yet within a few generations, much of the land has been reclaimed by the original inhabitants.
All that remains of these families are the beautiful stone walls that serve as monuments to a presence and a past. In the end they simple whisper that the earth conquers all.
The Stone Wall (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) was written after many walks in the woods of northern New England.
Glenn K. Currie
The Stone Wall
It gradually disappeared into the woods,
A tired traveler, losing its way.
Old when old was young,
When the ground grew corn and sweet melon.
Built slowly, stone by stone.
From earth asleep for millenniums.
Built with the dreams of the young.
Abandoned when the farm failed.
Left to the slow embrace
Of oaks and pines and sugar maple.
The caress of winter winds and summer rain.
Finally merging into the woodlands,
A disintegrating home to ancient ghosts.
Stones fallen awkwardly among the leaves,
Weary markers on a journey to nowhere.