Allison Thorpe is the author of two books of poetry.  Her work has appeared in such journals as Appalachian Heritage, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Appalachian Women’s Journal, Cold Mountain Review, Pikeville Review, Potato Eyes, and ELF. She is currently working on a manuscript of poems based on quotations from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth.




Huddled Masses

         The woods extremely beautiful with all autumnal variety & softness--I carried a basket for mosses, & gathered some wild plants--Oh! That we had a book of botany--all flowers now are gay & deliciously sweet.  Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journals)
The ones I gathered
were illegal, of course,
alien to this rich and roughed land,
not like your carefree uprootings
from gentle field and blossomed grove,
that tranquil stretch of tree and fence
and stone cropping essential
to your country romanticism.
In mine, nature’s morsels
serve as boundary and tenure.

For days, chainsaws have shaken
the new spring air, each breath
a gasp of oil and sawdust.
Loggers have moved in
like feuding neighbors
to these unworried hills.

In the twilight cool,
I stumble the battered earth,
unwilling observer to this tragedy.
A tangle of budding briar
abandoned to ditch voices mission,
one clear epiphany.

With wheelbarrow and shovel,
I strike, frantically freeing
the endangered natives:
the royalty—
Queen Anne’s lace and jewelweed,
fragile beauties—
coneflower and wood violet,
the commoners—
ox-eye daisy and daylily.

Some are shunted to sunset,
others by moonlight,
all before the tyranny
of dozer and backhoe.                                                                                            
The dog keeps guard.
Tired, hungry, yearning
for a bed, we trudge
this overland railroad.

At dawn‘s edge,
I inspect their settling,
still as a statue
on some distant port.
Newly rooted
to a foreign soil,
the transplants sprawl
the welcome release,
the blessed taste
of this beginning land.




Nature’s Child                                                                        

          The young Bullfinches in their party coloured Raiment bustle about among the Blossoms & poise themselves like Wire dancers or tumblers, shaking the twigs &     dashing off the Blossoms.  Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journals

          Dear Child of Nature, let them rail! William Wordsworth, “To a Young Lady Who Had Been Reproached for Taking Long Walks in the Country”

          I’m just a child of nature / I don’t need much to set me free. John Lennon, “Child of Nature”
Daughter of peace
born of the great war,
married to a protested war,         
grandmothered in an unnecessary war,
I still search for that core of quietness,
that connection you express
so easily in your journals,
discovering self
in mirrored lake,
solitary island,
a frolic of birds.
What would you make
of all this violence,
the school shootings,
the random explosions
this new world of wild?
You found unruliness
in landscapes
shot full of violets,
random explosions of primrose,
the violence of a thunderstorm.
I tried to get away
from the world too,
but the world found me.
Now there is no real place to hide.
I am left to look for peace
in the touch of a child,
the grace of soil sunwarm and yielding
and eager for sprout,
a greening ravel heading home.



Common Wealth

          Grasmere was very solemn in the last glimpse of twilight it calls home the heart to quietness. Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journals

My sister is killing dandelions.
Actually, she hugs the checkbook
while we actively loiter
her front picture window
and watch a uniformed man
spray the yellow blooms.
I want to turn away, but can’t,
as one does at an accident site
or when a funeral passes.
She glows; once again
her lawn will echo
that of neighbor
and the perfect stretch
I toast them at dinner:
           To the dandelions!
I have savored the greens in spring,
rubbed their buttery softness
on my laughing daughter’s nose,
enjoyed the wine with friends,
whispered their soft spore to wind. 
my sister raises her glass:
           Good riddance!

When I leave the next morning,
a few straggled smears
of brown weakly
nod farewell.
The crisp air clinches
a whiff of poison
I try not to breathe as I pass.
That evening,
nuzzled on porch swing,
I inhale the glazed and rosy
musk of homecoming.
My neighbors, oak and hickory,
creak and sigh in welcome hymn,
cardinals pleasure the dimming air,
deer snort faintly down the hill.
The last folds of sun highlight
dandelions that pepper my view,
join wild onion and wood violet,
switch grass and beech fern
in this harmony of voice,
this wonder of difference
that is our place in the world.