Sheltering in Home-woods

Becoming a Naturalist (Part 53) prose-poem by Jack Phillips


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in a forgotten corner of Billie’s neighborhood in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Photo by Billie Shelton


Not this time with friends or in a native place I wander my home-woods today and lay me down in dappled shade of yet bare branches so happy for the snoozy puppy on a heap of leaves beside me the wilds of my body given here to ground. 

Beneath and above and around and within the sweet slink of rhiza the lining of a lung and salamander skin the earthen oozing of fecundities and funk (here dreaming of ripe juneberry and summer plum) the glide under a snail awash in inky night the swollen dawn in words and weep and blackbird gurgles. 

Nature may ask of us silence and solitude but the promiscuous come-alongs of which Thoreau complained I have come to cherish and my backyard not-so-much a Walden has no less bloodroot viola crow’s foot waterleaf confusing spring warblers and that’s what you get when you never mow (or seldom) a mouse in a woodpile a fox sliding over the fence let the neighbors complain our children came up happy. 

Life abides on a slippery film the soft the slick the lyric. We are no less wild than ever needing only to feel in us the pump and ripple we share with the sweet and the beastly to ride the spin of spirit and the firm and soon to find our feet with prodigal friends the good the wild beloved. 


Bloodroot and bedstraw in my back yard, the result of a ban on mowing and pesticides, and a healthy population of symbiotic ants.