Bald Cypress Reflection: A Pantoum Poem

While driving from New Orleans to Shreveport on New Year’s Day, I pulled over at Chicot State Park for a healthy dose of nature to kick off the new year. The park runs along a 20-mile hiking/mountain biking trail that encircles Lake Chicot, passing by a number of primitive campsites along the way.

The mostly-flat trail meandered across gentle rolling hills and through bottomland hardwood forests. It was a peaceful place, void of crowds and roadside noise.

But what stood out the most to me were the bald cypress trees. Native to southern swamps, bald cypress trees form in characteristic groves and raise conical “knees” from their underwater roots. Their leaves may have been dead, but their preserved beauty provided me with inspiration at the onset of a promising new year.

I chose Chicot State Park as the subject of my latest poem and decided upon the pantoum as an appropriate poetic form. Originating in Malaysia in the 15th century, pantoums are composed of four line stanzas, in which select lines are repeated in subsequent stanzas and take on new meaning when repeated.

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, allow me to share with you the first draft of Bald Cypress Reflection.

Bald Cypress Reflection: A Pantoum Poem

On New Year’s Day in Twenty-Fourteen
A mild Louisiana breeze blew through
Rugged boots trudged toward gentle hills
Along an endless trail of dirt

Chicot Park Trailhead

A mild Louisiana breeze blew through
Bald cypress trees waved side to side
Along an endless trail of dirt
Filled with mystery and ominous warning

First view of the bald cypress

Bald cypress trees waved side to side
Perched in the swamp and coated in frost
Filled with mystery and ominous warning
Silence never spoke so loudly

An eerie stillness in the swamp

Perched in the swamp and coated in frost
My weary legs and wearier mind
Silence never spoke so loudly
Signs of life through subtle reflection

Are those berries beginning to form?

My weary legs and wearier mind
A click preserved the image forever
Signs of life through subtle reflection
Southern swamps swallowed me whole

Snapping a shot along the hike

A click preserved the image forever
Rugged boots trudged toward gentle hills
Southern swamps swallowed me whole
On New Year’s Day in Twenty-Fourteen

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