sna poems, supplementum #17: seminary woods

seminary woods, on the property of st. francis de sales seminary in st. francis, wisconsin (sometimes called “the salesianum”), is a relatively undisturbed 68-acre beech-maple mesic forest, with a cemetery and grotto beneath the canopy. it’s a last remnant of the kind of woods that used to line lake michigan, and some massive trees live here, especially beeches. there are a number of bottoms regularly filled with water, and deer stream runs thru-out before emptying into lake michigan. the spring ephemeral display is apparently very impressive, so i’ll be back again pretty soon. the deeper areas have a very distinct, close smell, especially in high summer.

i’m particularly interested in these woods as bernard durward—first professor of english at the seminary and one of wisconsin’s earliest poets, whose poems i’m currently editing with a colleague—must have walked here. the potawatomi deeded the land to franciscan sisters back in 1833, who sold it to the (arch)diocese of milwaukee for a seminary in 1855.


beech crown in crowded wood

oversees grotto and grave

winter passing into spring


the sisters lie beneath turf

a world away from home

awaiting the precious end


water wallows

in still bottoms

below bulb-shoots


crow murder weaves

thru branch-net

laughter in the woods

2 thoughts on “sna poems, supplementum #17: seminary woods

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