This spring, visiting assistant professor of English John Casteen taught Poetry and the Environment, a class in which students studied the landscape of contemporary poetry through selected readings focused on such environmental themes as wilderness, nature, the city, the suburb, the industrial zone, the farm, virtual and online experience and culture.
Students also wrote their own poems. “Stalking the Trees” was written by Nina Kappel ’15, an English and creative writing major from Rye, N.Y.
“I took this course because of my love for poetry,” Kappel says. “It’s helped me realize, more than anything, the ways in which I want to live my life.”
Stalking the Trees
It’s hard not to think of the cold,
As the wind, and degree change
Make my head begin to ache. Cold snap
After a couple days of warmth
Brings days of howling, and skies
Of grey. Or the harsh winter
Sun that makes the ache
Sting; and all I can do
Is wrap my arms tightly around
Myself, and get to where I’m going.
I couldn’t have written this
In bitterness — with numb fingers, and a hatred
I’m guilty of. I can’t write in that. But now,
As I’m warm, and curled up, I remember:
I do more than just go. I think of the cold;
I think of the dull brown trees, and the dry
Faded grass. So many
Dull brown trees — with their mess
Of scraggly branches. I long for the bright hues
Of springtime . . .
I’ve been stalking the trees,
And the buds are growing — slowly.
Taking their sweet time, and I’ve wondered,
While gazing, what they might be
Waiting for. So in the stark wind of Wednesday
Morning, I thought: Could it be
Me? As if I was the one that the world
Revolved around. As if the flowers
Were waiting on me to bloom — to settle into the good
Habits, and flourish.
But the flowers, and the soft green grass will come,
Even if I don’t go anywhere.
So I’ll be going now.
— Nina Kappel ’15