Cradled in my country’s corn-rich plains,
North of the river, good and fertile land,
There is a certain wood, that, when it rains,
Exhales a breath of life not meant for man.

That wood has given mouth-to-mouth to me.

A certain path meanders through the trees,
Soliciting and shameless to withhold
Its intimacies, all its memories
That time has touched, and that, like me, grow old.

The secrets there are everything to me.

Then let us go, and quickly, past the fence
And find the ghosts that linger by that tree,
Sole witness in this trial of innocence
And somehow soul of all I long to be.

May these roots be sufficient unto me.



Ramón Rodriguez, LC, is a religious brother on the path towards the priesthood. He lives in Rome, where he studies philosophy at the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Aposolorum.

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9 Responses

  1. Martin Rizley

    I find this poem beautifully written, yet at the same time, enigmatic. I have not yet deciphered all the clues, other than to know that in some way, this wood, and a particular tree associated with it as “sole witness” to events long ago, have marked in a determinative way who you are and who you wish to be in the future. Reading your bio, I am thinking that the “trial of innocence” may refer to the course of life you are pursuing, and perhaps this tree is the witness to prayers you offered or vows you made to God in connection with that pursuit.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Hi, Ramon
      Your poem is quite evocative without being revealing. I don’t see advantage in changing any of the vocabulary (for metrical, grammatical, or meaning-related reasons); the comma Monty refers to could be dropped, but I wouldn’t have noticed one way or the other.

  2. Monty

    A well-written poem, Ramón; containing a nice sentiment which seems genuinely ‘felt’ by yourself. I particularly like your use of the terms ‘mouth-to-mouth’ and ‘trial of innocence’. Clear diction throughout, and near-faultless rhymes (apart from land/man). Good effort.

    I do feel, however, that the first stanza could be slightly improved, particularly in regard to the metrical imbalance of the first two lines.

    a/ To change the very first word “cradled” to a three-syllable word (e.g. embedded) would give the first line the same metrical-equality as the preceding lines (apart from L2).

    b/ The reader doesn’t really need to know whether the wood is north or south of the river; hence the word “north” could be dispensed with, owing to its patent disturbance of the meter . . and might be replaced with “beside” (although, I’m sure there must be a better word).

    c/ In L3, there’s no need for a comma after ‘wood’.
    The sentence reads as “a certain wood that exhales a breath of life” . . and only the “when it rains” should be separated with commas. I’d also swap the “that” in L3 for a “which”.

    Thus, maybe the stanza could read:

    Embedded in my country’s corn-rich plains,
    Beside a river – good and fertile land –
    There is a certain wood which, when it rains,
    Exhales a breath of life not meant for man.

    Also, in L2 of the 3rd stanza: it may be better to say “a tree” instead of “that tree”; ‘coz the latter would suggest that the reader has already been informed of a certain tree . . which isn’t the case.

    Given your name and location, I find myself wondering whether or not English is your first language . .

    • GG

      Except…. it is his poetry and an art form coming from HIS soul not yours. Changes based on a random online opinion would be honestly laughable and would only taint his expression into something less than than authentic. Maybe simply read and appreciate unless you assistance had been solicited.

      • Monty

        Are you saying that it’s HIS poetry, and coming from HIS soul, and not mine? Well, how generous of you to make that clear to us all. If it wasn’t for your altruism, we might never’ve been sure who’s poetry it was. Reach round and give yourself a pat on the back.

        The editor at SCP sometimes makes changes to a poem before it appears on these pages; which, in effect, are changes made “based on an online opinion”. Do you also consider THAT to be “honestly laughable”?

        You suggest, ludicrously, that I should “read and appreciate” his poem. I DID read it, otherwise how could I have commented upon it? I DID appreciate it, otherwise how could I have wrote the first paragraph of my above comment? Or did you not read said first paragraph?

        The puerile errors contained in the last 15 words of your comment- ‘than than’: ‘you’ instead of ‘your’: ‘had’ instead of ‘has’ – would suggest that you’re not really in a position to comment upon the finer points of grammar. That is “laughably honest”.

  3. Monty

    I can understand that, Ju. If you have no concern for the three aspects you refer to – metrics: grammar: meaning – then of course you’ll feel that the poem should be left as it is.

    Perhaps if you were to read aloud the first two lines to yourself.. several times.. who knows?

    As for the comma, you couldn’t NOT notice it, coz the comma told you to pause after the word ‘wood’.. and then pause again after the next word . . and that was the flow disturbed.

  4. Paul Oratofsky

    For me – technically – I find both of your versions of the first stanza metrically correct. My meterometer measures a 10 for each. As written, the first two lines work with each other for me. The slightly different stresses make it interesting, and more musical. I hear this as clearly as you hear what you hear, Monty.

    Or might you be hearing a mathematical rather than an aesthetic order? Wallace Stevens said “music is feeling, then, not sound.”

    I prefer Ramón’s because I find the rhythm more interesting, because of those mismatches and slight pauses by the commas, which I find beautiful, and apt. They’re far from bumps for me.

    I’d say this poem is very well crafted. The music is perfect. I can read it aloud to demonstrate that. And the mystery surrounding the content keeps it interesting. Well done.

    • Monty

      You seem not to realise, Paul, that your use of the word ‘mismatches’ to describe the first two lines confirms that we’re both in agreement with each other. I also saw the first two lines as a ‘mismatch’; so I simply offered a suggestion as to how they might become ‘matches’. That’s all!

      That doesn’t mean I was implying that the two lines, as they stand, are unable to be read musically by others. We’re all different; we all like different music; we all like different beats. My suggestion above was just made to give the two lines a certain beat; but of course you’re free to give them a different beat if you wish . . that’s a reader’s prerogative, is it not?

      But my suggestion wasn’t just in relation to those two lines as a couplet; it was also related to how those two lines could be made to acquiesce with all the preceding lines in the piece. I just felt that for such a well-written poem, it was a shame that the beats of the first two lines deviated from the rest. That’s why my answer to your question – “might I be hearing a mathematical order?” – is an emphatic ‘no’! I only hear music. In my psyche, the words ‘maths’ and ‘poetry’ should never be in the same sentence.

      Regarding the comma after ‘wood’: I stand firm. It’s totally and indubitably unnecessary; a grammatical error. And the reader doesn’t need the “bump” (as you call it); thus I’m a tad perplexed that you refer to said bump as “beautiful and apt”.


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