Page 43 - July 2021 Litterateur
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John C. Mannone has poems in North Dakota Quarterly, Le
                                                                   Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review,
                                                                   and others. A Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian
                                                                   literature (2017), he served as celebrity judge for the NFSPS
                                                                   (2018).  His  poetry  won  the  Impressions  of  Appalachia
                                                                   Creative  Arts  Contest  (2020).  He  edits  poetry  for  Abyss  &
                                                                   Apex  and  other  journals.  A  retired  physicist,  John  lives  in
                                                                   Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

                           John C. Mannone, United States

                     “Wilderness” came out of my
                     depression, in large part due                                             Wilderness

                     to  or  aggravated  by  the
                     coronavirus  lockdown,  and
                     the  actions  I  took  to  help
                     mitigate  it.  In  effect,  I  was
                     saying  “bye,  bye”  to  this
                     malady.      I’ve   included     a
                     photograph  I  had  taken  last
                     year  when  I  went  on  one  of
                     these  mental-healing  hikes.
                     The  image  is  in  the  Joyce
                     Kilmer  National  Forest,  Slick
                     Rock  Wilderness  area  near
                     Robbinsville,  North  Carolina.
                     ---John C. Mannone

                  Sheltered in place sounds nurturing, protective, but this manmade wilderness is not interested

                  in my survival. Depression doesn’t give a damn either; it won’t stop plaguing me. When I’ve had
                  enough, I leave with a salty blur in my eyes and drive away to the park because I know I can talk
                  to the mountains—on the trail, my feet touch earth, and the earth touches me. I am connected
                  to this marvelous creation, and to the creator. I feel a presence wrap me like a hug.

                  I ponder out loud, but only hear the echo of myself in the haunting stillness, yet even the rocks
                  thrust out their arms and cry out in praise. I look up, past the azure, imagine the myriad of stars
                  that  I  cannot  see,  but  hear  their  proclamations  as  loud  as  the  psalmist  had  voiced  in  the

                  Scriptures.  I  have  so  many  questions;  try  not  to  argue  with  myself  about  whether  I  have
                  purpose or not. But all I want to know right now is to know when I can hug the people I love.
                  Will I die from the virus before I can kiss her again? A broken heart is just as fatal.

                  I  pull  myself  back  into  the  splendor  that  surrounds  me,  every  imaginable  shade  of  luscious
                  green borders the trail, along with the boisterous colors of spring. The flowers are as numerous
                  as those stars—a galaxy of wildflowers—phlox, bluets, asters, and daisies, even trillium with all
                  its holy symbolism; wild geranium and daylilies bowing to the orchestra of nature; and white-

                  fringed phacelia with its delicate elegance—their names are blessed among the flora that grace
                  this time of solitude. Their scent is a sweet prayer merging with mine.

                   Litterateur                                                                                                 43

                           REDEFINING WORLD
                        EDITED BY SHAJIL ANTHRU
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