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Jerimoth Hill

Tom Chandler

812 feet, the highest point in Rhode Island

You will not recognize any bald knob of granite
or sheer cliff face silhouetted against clouds,
in fact, you won't realize you're anywhere at all
except by this bullet-riddled sign by the road
that curves through these scraggled third growth
woods that was once a grove of giant pines
that were cut down for masts that were used
to build ships to sail away to the rest of the world
from the docks of Providence Harbor, their holds
filled with wool from the sheep that grazed
in the field that had once been the giant pines
till the shepherds died off and the applers took over
and grew orchards of Cortlands and Macintosh
Delicious to fill the holds of the ships that sailed
to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence
Harbor with masts made from the giant pines till
the orchards moved west along with everything
else to less glacial land and the fields became
overgrowth of berries and hobblebush crisscrossed
by walls made of stones that had slept beneath
one inch of topsoil for twelve thousand years
till the settlers found when they tried to plant crops
that this was a country that grew only rocks which
they made into walls to pen in the sheep that provided
the wool that filled the holds of the ships that sailed
to the rest of the world from the docks of Providence Harbor.

From Sad Jazz by Tom Chandler, published by Table Rock Books. Copyright © 2002 by Tom Chandler. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Tom Chandler