Holy Chestnut Hymns

by Sarah Henson

Greening across a chestnut snag in Spring
When Winter turns away from shining fields
Moss pushes up fruiting bodies, beaming
In intelligent capsules, neat and sealed
Beneath this moss-skin the tree gives up ground
Softening appears between lines of grain
The tree's return to earth leaves a red mound
So rich and moist the process starts again
Rhododendron sprouts with flat oval leaves
Rootling deep in slow sunk loam, white in red
Fiber along fiber, neither bereaved
In this newness of spring in chestnut beds
               Life along lines of moss, new leaves and limbs
               Rise up and bow to holy chestnut hymns

Sarah Henson recently made her deep love of nature the main priority in her life by returning to Appalachia after two years in San Francisco.

About Holy Chestnut Hymns— This poem resulted from my admiration for the re-greening of moss—one of the first signs of spring—and the cycles of life and death in a Western North Carolina forest.