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The Escarpment Song

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Up past the escarpment
Where the land turns into lakes
And the shining stripes of silver birch reflecting in the wake
And the bass hide in the waving reeds
For as long as it takes
To get away
And to escape

One sapling red-stemmed maple
in the lap of a hemlock tree
One branch holds the elder back
While the other tries to break free
As sure as the change of the seasons,
I turn to you and your turning back into me

There’s deepness in the water
And the threat of things unseen is pure
The warning of a random tooth
Embedded in a lure
When every ounce of energy
is spent in the hopeful stretch to the distant shore
Once more

There’s something so confirming
In the measure of a man
Ready to help anyone
in any way he can
Such a man was old Jim Hart,
A man that I was proud to call my friend
Until the end

Where life depends on neighbors
As the only safety net
If modern life is coming here,
it hasn’t got here yet
Where light is powered by kerosene,
And luck is a westbound wind and an amulet

My mother had a sister
Whose name was young Jean Mills
Jean had married a fine young man
Whose name was James P. Hill
Jim Hill himself had a cousin,
And that was the aforementioned
Jimmy Hart
Who got his start

Up past the escarpment
Where the land breaks into lakes
And all my favorite memories
Are buried in its shakes
I swear I’m gonna get back there
For as long as it takes
And I’m awake
And the bough don’t break