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In These Woods

Maura High

Lichen is patient
crust and scale, bright
against the wet rock

rust and ochre, green-gray

Lichen as in, licks, nibbles, into
these old lavas and tuffs—igneous
even they

give way, pit and splinter

wash down
into the decomposing leaves and husks
of seeds and cracked nutshells

Mouse, rabbit, squirrel, deer
abandoned cat gone feral, coyote
hawk, owl, crow, wren

find sustenance enough

as the trees find
roothold enough among the stones
and boulders

The forest
the sticks and twigs
in the crook of my arm

and I, eye and ear
are the Earth’s skin
and soft body

plucking at its bones

Maura High lives in the Piedmont of North Carolina. For more on her poetry and publications, her community and environmental and arts interests, and her roots in Wales, see her website,

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