Jess Levens


It’s a common road, about three miles long—
a quick left not far beyond the heart-scarred
sycamore where I carved my name plus hers.

A serpentine street, it slithers between
piled lines of kneehigh stones—the mossy bones
of dead farms, reborn wild and overgrown.

The canopy labors under winter’s weight.
Chilling hilltop howls break down weary boughs
as I slow and crawl to a twinkling veil.

Cascading crystal mist opaques my path.
It dangles for a breath, and with a breath,
diamond drizzle fades back into the dawn.

Creeping past the clearing’s throat, silver sun
slips behind the pines and prints zebra stripes
along the crumbling, snow-white blacktop.

As floodplains flank, a bridge spans the river.
Calm, she flows in the morning’s flooding bright—
this place where too many fish slipped my hook.

Then again, I’m swallowed whole by the wood
and its towering dark. Flickers of light
bombard the glass as I squint toward the end.

I approach a colonial kirkyard—
a hill built by bloody bold and the husks
of the New World, hopeful, but dead too soon.

A perfect terminus, but not yet mine.
I turn around and drive back down the road,
plunging headlong into the blinding gold.

Jess Levens is a poet and photographer based in Holliston, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, sons and dogs. He draws inspiration from New England’s woods and waters, as well as the sharp-tongued women and men who roamed there before. Jess is a Marine Corps veteran and alumnis of Northeastern University. Follow Jess on Twitter at @levensworks