A layer of rust-colored needles covered the path and she stepped along softly, inhaling deeply what nature exhaled. The air was sweet with blossom, and birds flit about the tree branches above. A slightly envious thought welled up in her heart as she watched a bluebird fly off. She thought of Henry David Thoreau. He’d written a poem about bluebirds, but he was at his best in prose.
“The bluebird carries the sky upon his back.” It was much quoted among lovers of everything poetic and green, and everything Thoreau.
It was her daily walk of inspiration in the Poet’s Preserve. She paused at a small white pine and felt the soft, delicate, fur-like cluster of needles. She had read somewhere that the white pine was Thoreau’s favorite tree. It was certainly a useful tree, growing alongside other saplings in tight clusters, providing an extra barrier of security if grown along a fence. But it was also highly flammable, making its dry branches and twigs ideal for kindling. Thoreau no doubt used the white pine for kindling when he started the fire that accidentally burned the woods near Concord, Massachusetts.
There were quite a lot of white pine in the Poet’s Preserve, especially around the perimeter, closing off the world she once knew in her youth, before the revolution, when she was free to walk among the trees of any park or public garden of her choosing, her poetry guided by inspiration rather deadlines, before she was taken in the night and put on house arrest in a tiny cabin on ten acres of forest preserve.
Her food rations were delivered monthly and she had an outhouse and a chamber pot. Bathing was basically a sponge bath with her weekly ration of water. Her only modern convenience was a small computer for writing and sending poetry via the ever watchful satellite that surveilled her from high above.
Her quota was twenty poems a day, to be posted for the censors no later than 5 p.m. each evening. They were to be read to the masses over their smart phones as they slaved in the factories outside the preserve, building windmills, weapons, solar panels, rockets and aircraft, and growing food on enormous plantations. All phones were restricted to a small number of internet sites chosen by the government and everyone was required to don their earbuds as they worked to rhythm, rhyme and poetic propaganda. Only a few select registered members of planet earth were allowed to write.
Once the poet laureate, now the poetic pacifier of the people, she was placed in the Poet’s Preserve to gather inspiration from nature and write one mediocre poem after another in praise of slavery to the all.
She put aside her thoughts of Thoreau and pieced together some lines in her mind’s eye.
Like the pine we stand together for all with one purpose
Fruitful cones seed the world and keep the masses moving toward utopia
Suddenly at the word, utopia, she drew a blank, as if she had walked into a room and forgotten why she was there, as if she could not for the life of her remember a name. She looked up at the blue of the sky and thought again of the bluebird.
The sky is just too much to bare for one poet, she thought.
She dropped off the path and walked deep into a stand of pines where the satellite could not see, and built a number of piles of pine with dry needles still attached throughout the forest floor. She began rubbing pieces of pine together until a spark of flame finally burst forth. Her first pile shot into flame immediately, and she went from pile to pile, finally turning the entire area, including cabin and outhouse into a tinder box.
As the smoke consumed her lungs, she glanced up once more at a blue sky above the flames. Her message to the world rose high above the Poet’s Preserve and could be seen for miles around, billowing high above the earth. My best work yet, she thought.