“In the Pipeline’s Path” by Annie Woodford

Annie Woodford


for Red Terry

Pippins and scarlet oaks, she said.

She took to her tree
because she knew she’d never see
any of this again—
the wayward field,
the water meadow filled
with late spring rain
filtering down through
karst-pocked caves
to the aquifer’s hidden well.
The way southeastern trees
turkey-call against each other
when they rub high branches
in high wind.
She lived
in the whippoorwill’s liquid note.
Pippen—the name for an apple
that used to mean seed
is an old word for a new world.

And most of the orchards are gone.

The few rows she still has she has
not for money, but to know
that the animals come—
black bear, deer, the careful raccoon—
to eat the windfall turning sweet in tall grass,
to leave behind scat bejeweled with seed,
tracks of paw print and claw,
rubbed bark, the bitten twig.

from Poets Respond


Annie Woodford: “As I write this, Mountain Valley Pipeline is cutting trees through a delicate upland water meadow high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are cutting the familial trees of Theresa ‘Red’ Terry, a sixty-one-year-old working class mother who lived in a tree stand for over a month in an attempt to stop this destruction in the name of carrying fracked gas to foreign countries. We who have protested the pipeline have exhausted all legal recourse and it has proven rigged: the Federal Energy Regulation Commission is stacked with industry-appointees, our democratic governor took $50,000 from MVP, and the state legislature passed laws making it acceptable for private companies to take land even when the public benefit is not clear. Red came down from her tree on Saturday because a federal judge ruled on behalf of the pipelines and people are now thinking the fight is lost. This poem is my attempt to keep Red’s fight alive and in the news. The fight is not over.” (web)

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