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Lane Spring

I love the big dramatic springs too . . . but there is something just as special about the smaller ones. Lane Spring is south of Rolla off Highway 63, and it’s hard to beat for quiet beauty.

I had the good fortune to publish two poems about Lane Spring in Ozark Review, way back when. The first was in the Winter 1978 edition, entitled “Lane Spring Psalm” by Gene Doty, and it goes like this:

naos of jewelweed

& poison ivy

             oak branches gargoyled with vines

                         hickory & redbud

                        buttresses

             caryatids of poke & walnut

 a living clerestory

admits vibrant light

             leaves of light & shadow

            shimmer

 out of earth & rock, wet,

cold & clear among cress

white sand speckled with black snails

             this hollow the fane

            of a shy spirit

             whose naiads flow unseen:

            nourish my spirit

 a spring rising hidden

            among trees & weeds

 I stand at the threshold

seeking a way

to enter

            a jeep in the parking lot starts

            children shriek & splash

            in the cold water

the god of this spring

deflects the psalm I raise

to praise his dark clarity

his bright surface reflects my voice

            and when I wade the stream

            my ankles ache with his chant

            to the God of all springs

                        wet cold & holy

The second is a response poem entitled “On Reading ‘Lane Spring Psalm,’ by Patricia Julian Morrow, published in the Winter 1979 issue:

On a bank of impatiens and poison ivy

You have caught a site for prayer,

A sight of god. There’s a fine irony that

Donne would have spun into a fine web

To catch the bumbling heart and Voltaire

Cranky, eloquent, braided into a welting lash for it.

I had never thought the figuration for a throne

Of grace must be jasper, amber, gold,

There seemed no need for such, shall I say, gaudy,

But I, as common, looked to a clump of yellow roses,

To the failing facts of a March icicle.

Now I must look further perhaps or closer.

I remember once I walked on the road

Right past the Castalian spring, eyes on the mountain,

Never noticing that the gift of the god

Had offered itself in that low place.

What gift did he bear, do you think, he was was given

Through the bright opacity of gnarling gray olive,

Of sun-returning stone, of vivid brown water

To first sight that dark cold pure rushing?

Two lovely poems. Visit a spring when you can. The photo, by the way, is by Charlie Gill of the U.S. Forest Service.

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