Monday, July 17, 2006

Amanda's Walk

Heat stacked like steam in the openness. But not where the hemlocks swept down the ravine. Layer over layer of deep green. The needles drank rivers of sun.

Amanda was wandering, not lost enough to care. She sat on a log dusted with mossy green.

Days like this live and live, she thought. Not in words. And the first cicada of the season buzzed in the treetops.

She lifted her face, closed her eyes, and all the forest heard.


anne said...

Lovely words and images, Jason.
And after looking up "polypores", I also know what the photo is of - thought you were frying eggs on the tree roots. :)

Terri said...

Great photo! And as always, such lovely words to go with it

Scott said...

I really liked the last line, as if the forest were made just for her pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Anne, you've reminded me I have to be careful about how I name my picture files. This time it was helpful! Got a good laugh on the frying eggs comment. Yesterday, it was hot enough for that! :D

Terri, thank you kindly. :)

Scott, sometimes it feels that way. I could spend hours just sitting there.

Flood said...

The needles drank rivers of sun.

Loved that. I also really liked the angle of this shot. You have a great eye.

JLB said...

I love the image and the imagery, and the way it carries your mind in so many directions. Of course, the placement in the forest jumps right into my heart!

As a small critique, I stumbled a bit in the opening lines. Perhaps you could revise “air stacked like steam” to address the air/fog/mist itself more directly?

Beautiful, nontheless!

JLB said...

PS - the fungus look kinda like the fish! :)

Anonymous said...

Flood, thank you! Sometimes you really have to get down and dirty. Interesting angles go a long way toward making a nice shot.

JLB, thanks for the compliment! I looked at the first line with a fresh eye and saw it was not clear at all. I changed "air" to "heat." Does that help?

And yes, that fungus is pretty funky! :)

mermaid said...

Interesting title. It's as if the walk is hers alone to experience. Yet, you describe it so vividly, that I feel like I'm a voyeur intruding on her time.

Funny, how she doesn't seem to notice.

sandra seamans said...

You've captured the essence of the PA woods perfectly. I've got a spot up back just like it. Great place to think. And another week or so the blackberries will be ripe.

Shesawriter said...


The writing is wonderful as usual, but that photo is creeping me out. LOL! I hate those things. Every time I look at them (in photos and real life) I get gooseflesh.


JLB said...

Greetings! Yes, I think heat is a good improvement, but I still feel that it could be stronger.

It may be the simile with "stacked" that trips me up the most... I like the concept, but I still have a hard time imagining steam stacking, and if steam did stack, it seems as though that steam would be warm/hot already.

Perhaps something more direct, such as "heat stacked in the openness" or "heat swallowed the openness" or if you want to hold the simile, "heat stacked like bricks" would convey your meaning without trying to compare steam, air, or heat as disparate entities. (Ok, bricks aren't particularly eloquent, but they do clearly stack, yes?)

Of course, I could be seriously overworking this little line. That happens. ;)

Even if you don't wish to change it, I still think the piece is beautiful, and I love to envision myself in Amanda's shoes! It's always a pleasure to pop in and read your work Jason.


Anonymous said...

Mermaid, I feel like I'm a voyeur intruding on her time. Wow. That's a serious compliment! Thanks!

Sandra, right in your neighborhood too! And you're right. The blackberries and raspberries are just beginning to ripen. We ate couple. :)

Tanya, they do look a little too moist for comfort. hehe.

JLB, I'm definitely guilty of lapsing into poetry in my prose, LOL! Sometimes I like to bend concepts or meanings for effect. I seem to pull it off most of the time, but I have the inevitable clinkers. For example, my wife did not like a certain description in The Field, Part 2. No one flagged it here, though. :)

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to give constructive comments! I'll ruminate on this line a bit more.

Kelly Parra said...

Oh my gosh, I love that last line. Beautiful, Jason!

anne frasier said...


my eyeballs and brain are really happy right now.

Fran Piper said...

I loved the sense of space in this. First the hemlocks sweeping down, then Amanda on the log, then the cicada in the treetops, then we sweep out to encompass the entire forest. This all gives me an extraordinary feeling of depth and thereness.

Love it.

Bernita said...

W/Flood on that line - beautiful image. Inhalation.
The word "openess" doesn't do it for me though.Find it weak, vague.
"stacked?" - I'm ambivalent. Word is a bit concrete block solid when the overriding images are fluid, but air does layer.

littlepuddle said...

That was really good. I liked it! The picture is great!

JLB said...

In my book, there is absolutely nothing wrong with mixing poetry with prose - if this line feels right to you, then I think you should keep it in just as it is!

Recently I tried revising a poem of mine after several members of my critique group were mutually hung on a particular line. After removing the line, some three weeks later I still feel like it should be there.

I thought that perhaps I was just preferential to the original draft, but one member finally suggested, "if it feels right to you, then you need to put it back in and keep it there!" While it's hard to put the "finished" stamp on any work, I think he may be right - sometimes, you have to trust yourself as the artist, and let the audience fall, trip, glide, or float where they may!


Rene said...

This is lovely, Jason, I really felt like I was on the walk with her.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, thanks, my friend. :)

Anne, you can have a seat too. Amanda wouldn't mind.

Fran, thank you for the high compliment! I'm happy the words opened for you.

Bernita, I can smell the forest in that picture too. ** I'm okay with ambivalence in a word choice. However, I can see how "openness" doesn't really get much meaning across.

Little Puddle, thank you! I can't wait to see what you come up with next. :)

JLB, I agree, it's a fine line we walk. I've seen the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen effect also. There's a line, but it's difficult to know where to draw it. I don't want readers tripping on anything that breaks the flow of writing. On the other hand, everyone has their own view of what might be an improvement here and there. I always make the former kinds of changes. The later is often a matter of personal style.

Anonymous said...

Rene, thanks for the kind words! It's nice morning for a walk, and the breeze is just right. :)

Deborah said...

You always find the neatest pictures, Jason. :) Once again, your words outshine the images.

k l gilbert said...

This transported me beyond the present oppressive heat. I feel cooled and refreshed.

It also gave me an idea for a poem. Thanks!


Meander said...

simply delightful!

Eileen said...

okay this fungus creeps me out a bit. It looks like the kind that eats people.

For The Trees said...

This photograph has a very strange meaning. I don't understand why three pieces of unbaked pizza are laid out on a log in what looks like the woods.

I liked the words, though. "Heat stacked like steam in the openness. But not where the hemlocks swept down the ravine." This reminds me of how cool it is under the trees, no matter how hot it was out in the sun.

Now, "She lifted her face, closed her eyes, and all the forest heard." There's a line! Meditating and poof! At one with everything!

Thanks for the pizza picture.

Or were those croissants?

Anonymous said...

Deborah, thanks! I'd love to get out with my camera more than I do.

K L Gilbert, such a kind thing to say! Thank you very much. :)

Meander, welcome to The Clarity of Night! I love seeing new visitors. Hope to see you back.

Eileen, my wife wasn't too keen on it either. It does seem a bit sentient.

Forrest, unbaked pizza...too funny! :) You know, it does bear a resemblance. Thanks for the compliment. =)

anna said...

Ooh that last line.. wish I'd written it. simply lovely

anna said...

my gosh this is another
kinda creepy photo

Anonymous said...

Anna, yeah, mushrooms can be a bit diabolical.

Thanks for the compliment!