Tracy Ahrens writes about her poem, Thicket of Memories: ‘Sitting in the woods has always brought me closer to God, to the purpose of existence. I have written many poems in nature. I sat among the thickets, on a fallen tree, in the cold of early February while writing this piece. Torn between loss of love, friends, family and dreams, haunted by traumas – these things reflected the thickets around me. Life lives in the rendering at the bottom of the forest. Memories and actions there are both stunning and haunting. Trees stretch towards the sky, fighting for light – for the ultimate reward of freedom, of Heaven. I am a tree. I rise to keep living. I rise to grow and move away from the past which has harmed me. Yet, I want to hold the beautiful parts of my past and present close to me and carry them with me upward. Choosing a different path in life, not common behavior, you tend to walk solo. Most prefer the thickets of memories, the comfort of commonality. Many people, events have scarred my trunk/me. Some things have sought to rot my core, eroding who I am. We all age. We all die. We all should keep trying to rise to the sunlight. Saplings will learn from this determined climb. Some have taken my advice and learned from my battles and talents. Some around me have been inspired/fed off of my passions, talents, love and life choices. Some have temporarily sought shelter/comfort in my arms. Some have stayed in my shade, in the archives under my fallen leaves for many seasons. One day when I topple into the thickets, and light will shine brighter for saplings to similarly rise. They will feed off of my shared wisdom. Such is life.’
Thicket of Memories
their bony fingers splayed,
sharp nails scratching my legs,
begging for my green.
I look away, ascending towards the blue.
Descent into the brambles would bring consumption,
swirled in pain and fear, struggle and immobility.
In the sediment, souls slide softly, teasing:
the fur of a fox, feathers of a flicker, brush of a butterfly wing.
I stoop to acknowledge them and am reminded why I climb.
I want to rake through the wreckage,
clutching beauty to my core, lifting, liberating.
If only I could carry it up with me where we all could see.
So many years I struggled to ascend, cautiously carrying elements I absorbed.
The toxic things kept thriving, thickening, leeching nutrients.
I stretched onward towards the sun for sustenance,
but with the light came isolation.
Maybe this is why most won’t strive for this station, or stay.
They prefer thickets of memories, dark and deep –
the comfort of commonality.
I’ve brushed by many on this ascent, touching, briefly.
Leaves, needles, bark: memories of me have trickled down.
Some feed off them.
Some seek shelter under them.
Some stay shrouded for many seasons.
Expressways etch my trunk, allowing infection to infiltrate.
Layer by layer, my core is rotting, porous and brittle.
One day I will topple into the thickets.
They will swallow me, swinging open a doorway to the sun.
Curious souls who watched me will similarly struggle to rise.
Tracy Ahrens of Illinois has been a journalist and editor for newspapers, magazines and websites for over 25 years. She is also an artist and author of eight books, including four children’s books. As of 2020, Tracy had won 66 writing awards statewide, locally and nationally. Tracy has published two books of poetry through Finishing Line Press titled “Nature will heal” (2012) and “I am” (2017). Her poetry has appeared in various literary magazines across the country. See her website here.