The Sunken Forest
by Ronnie Hess
Not really sunken or even below sea level
but a maritime holly forest under the dune’s arms.
On special days my mother packed sandwiches, jars of iced water,
walked us along the beach counting telephone poles.
When she found the forest’s entrance, no more than a rabbit hole,
we put on long-sleeved shirts and pants, slid into a netherworld:
Cool, painted in sunlight and shadow, thick
with catbrier, sassafras mittens, poison ivy vines,
and near the Bay, marsh and bog, cattails and rushes,
the lapping of water and strange birds.
Ronnie Hess is an award-winning essayist and poet, the author of five chapbooks and two culinary travel guides (Eat Smart in France, Eat Smart in Portugal). A native New Yorker transplanted to the Midwest, she grew up and was married on Fire Island, experiences recollected in her chapbook, Ribbon of Sand.