A mountain meadow smiled on late-arriving summer,
Flowers and grasses fading already
In warmth they would have gladly welcomed
Much earlier this shortened season.
Near its edge, a tall circle of deep green firs
Stood guard, as if they had been planted
For deliberate completion of the scene
Or as a monument, set there to be discovered.
Was it just the slanting light nudging me,
Or something else that prodded old memory?
Unexpectedly I saw myself trudging years ago
Down a drizzly incline below Salisbury
A cloud-shrouded Stonehenge emerging
From what should have been a summer sky.
The plain was empty of all but a few persons.
Then I was alone with the silent presence of the stones,
With Druids, long gone, yet still alive,
Etching memory, daring me ever to forget.
A week ago a mountain fire raged down the valley,
Destroying homes and burning countless trees,
Some of them, no doubt, forming imaginary monuments.
But a solid circle guards its level spot in my mind.
On the Solstice this year, fourteen thousand people
Cavorted in unseasonable mud at Stonehenge
Dancing, drinking and drugging a new ritual.
Yet I know that the same Druids watched them, too.
Through the bright and the dark, the warmth and the dank
An unknowable sameness holds it all together.
Charles B. Neff
August 20, 2012