Featured Poetry

Pete Mackey – Finding the Nursery

With his “Finding the Nursery”, poet Pete Mackey takes us on an amble into the shadows of the wilderness, where we find evidence of transformation. The modern ruins of the nursery discovered in the poem’s narrative reveal that things can return to “what they had never been more than”, and the repeated structure of the poem’s stanzas feel like footsteps we take through these sylvan wilds, with Pete as our dutiful guide. Follow him into the greenery of “Finding the Nursery”.

Finding the Nursery

So stale and blank with it all,
I had walked, not wandered, into
those woods, wanting the casual
solitude, thinking with time
left untended and quiet
an idea would finally come.

On every side fell walls
of deciduous limbs and evergreens
full of waiting and living
step by step deeper
in, light with shadows
forming new forests in waves.

I found no reason to stop,
though leaves and mossy stone
tested my balance as I moved
and wondered. Until a skeleton
of giant ribs opened
to the sky stopped me short.

For a second emptied graves
in a row seemed to lie
inside, before the scene
suddenly surrendered to itself
and I saw what had been left
behind: a nursery’s remains,

with stacks of black planting pots
under a rusted frame
holding only themselves,
all returning in a flash to what
they had never been more than.
And that was the end of it

or should have been. Instead
I felt longing surge for what
had been lost, for the pleasure
of even that dark surprise
that gave way to the fact of being.
And I paused inside to feel it,

touching the metal, tipping
over a tower of buckets,
and trailing my fingers through vines
that spiraled the length of a rib,
small buds beginning to show.
It was my own brief gesture

of respect for the dream of whomever
had built this place and imagined
life would spring from it,
and a way to confirm that that sight
of burial, however flashing,
was only an illusion. And then

I left, exiting opposite
my place of entry, back
into a thicker copse
that tugged at my clothes and scratched
my face, leaving me stumbling
blind, only to step free

and find my feet on a path
that arced me around the woods
to where I had entered, with nothing
to show for the visit except
an idea that had been abandoned
and became something else.

Pete Mackey

Pete Mackey’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in numerous venues, including most recently in Baltimore Review, West Trade Review, Moving Force Journal, Farmer-ish, Bangalore Review, and Cathexis Northwest Press; and as a winner or honoree in poetry contests by Panoplyzine and Third Wednesday, including a Pushcart Prize nominee. He lives with his wife and children in Amherst, MA, where he founded and run a communications company that serves leading colleges, universities, and other non-profits across the U.S. [Twitter handle: @macposter]

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