My Soul is Local

My Soul is Local

A Poem by Paul Teese


My soul wears only smelly shoes

soaked in fetid marshes

and reeking of sulfur.


It goes no farther than it can walk.


My soul hankers, sits, bends,

ties up its laces once again.

It slips out the door, across a street,

down a gravel lane, the back way

into a sleepy local park.


It seeks sanctuary.


My soul passes quietly under a verdant canopy,

spicebush and skunk cabbage to either side.

At a culvert, a small patch of blue iris unfurls.


It pays obeisance.


My soul leaves the path, wends its way

down to a spot too wet for trees or people,

a place where tussocks of sedge and rush

nestle in thick muck.


It stands in a nave.


My soul surveys a glorious flora

arrayed in sunlit splendor all around.

Moving to sacrament, shoes sink deep in mire,

are sucked off, overheated feet plunge

into a cool stink of balm, rooted in place.


My soul is transfixed.

Paul Teese was born and raised on Long Island. Over a varied work life, he has been a tennis instructor, an officer in the USAF, a federal bureaucrat, an ecological researcher, an instructor at a university, the director of a small non-profit, and a candidate for public office. He also took a few years off along the way to live on a commune where he learned to milk cows and weave hammocks. Having taken up creative writing in retirement, he has written short stories, poems and a feature length screenplay, Secret Passage. He continues to tinker with a first novel, The Flora of Heaven. He lives with his wife in a quiet village in rural upper Bucks County.