The Construction of Things – Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden I:I:3

“The Construction of Things” is the first of the four poems that comprise “Dispossession,” the sequence that opens part one of Mahler and Freud Meet in Leiden“The Covenant of Mortal Dreams.” The theme of the poem is the destruction of environment. It is published in the University of New Brunswick’s The Fiddlehead (Fredericton, NB), 243, 45 (2010).

Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport


The Construction of Things

The lucent micro-sounds of the highway
Flare as smoke-ridden flashes of flame
Over the ashen embers of my inner ear,

And collapsing sighs rush like breath fanned
From alveolar forests that know only
The pulse of the heart, the small heave
Of exchange between the silent atmosphere
And the sunstruck photosynthesis of carbon.

The mechanics of materialism press on,
Asphalt underneath rounded rubber, the bolted wheel’s
Motion that makes the shriek of blue jays
Cringe, and strike the sky with the contrails
Of carriers that whip reclaimed marshlands
At the places of first landing. Where the red fox hunts mallard
In long ditches of design, and expires when the road rises.

Let me clasp the outward form of the quivering silence;
Let me regain the calm that needs no interruption,
The fireweed that glows on the embankment
That fell from the hillside to clear the way.


Fireweed (Courtesy: Banff Sunshine Meadows)

Fireweed (Courtesy: Banff Sunshine Meadows)

The poem was begun on 19 September 2008 at North Conway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, refined at North Truro at Cape Cod, and completed on 23 June 2009 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.


Saturday, 20 September 2008, 9:03 am
North Conway, NH

Leisurely entrance to the day.

Drove to Pinkham Notch around eleven; fine day. Began hike to Lost Pond, but had to turn back about half way due to flooding from beaver dam. The shallow Ellis River along the path, though, was of a beautiful clarity, autumn leaves upon its agitated and calm surfaces, the sunlight reflecting off its water to the bark of trees near the stream.

Continued to the path to Thompson Falls, and followed that to the lower falls. Intended to go further, but on descending the rock face brought my entire weight down on my right knee, eliciting immediate pain and considerable wincing. Gloria had already decided not to scramble over stone, so had made her way to the pool beneath the falls, and there we lunched surrounded by the woods and the sound of the small cataract.

Back in town after two. Tracked down the liquor store and Hannaford’s, and settled in to read for a while before dinner: turkey sausage, the leftover smoked salmon, a roast chicken with German potato salad and orzo with pecans and cranberries. And perfectly acceptable $2.99 Californian Chardonnay. Read further on keyboard music afterwards.

My back has been somewhat sore, but it may be partly psychosomatic, after my doctor’s communication about my continuing physical disintegration.

Sunday, 21 September 2008, 10:42 am

A splendid day.

Drove to Crawford Notch, and there hiked to Ripley Falls, a beautiful, rippling cascade over a solidity of granite. Afterwards, completed driving the circle of road round the national forest.

Found myself rethinking my priorities with a clarity unclouded by everyday events.

Ripley Falls, New Hampshire (Courtesy:

Ripley Falls, New Hampshire (Courtesy:

Monday, 22 September 2008, 9:20 am

Another splendid day.

Drove to the Wonalancet River in the Sandwich Range, and in an instant we were in a world transformed by the brook that we followed for three hours. What calm and powerful beauty. And we met not another soul during that time.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008, 9:38 am

Fine hike of two hours: a waterfall loop past Gorham; five falls culminating at Tama Fall. So pleasurable sitting near the lip of the fall while the sound of moving water passed by continuously.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008, 9:28 am

Another fine day. It took us some time to find the trailhead of the Old Bridle Path to West Rattlesnake, as, from the road, it was indecipherably signed. However, once we had hiked to the outlook we came to a spectacular vista of Squam Lake, one of the finest views I have come upon. We lingered a while.

Squam Lakes (Courtesy:

Squam Lakes (Courtesy:

Thursday, 25 September 2008, 9:34 am

Spectacular turning of the autumn leaves. We made three shorter hikes off the Kancamagus Highway yesterday—the forest discovery trail near Lincoln, the splendid Sabbaday Falls (at whose upper reach we lunched near the clear, slow waters), and the trail to Swift River at the Passaconaway Historical Site, whose Russell-Colbath house, with the adjacent cemetery, we also looked at—and by the time we’d finished, we were finished also.

Friday, 26 September 2008, 10:29 am

To Pinkham Notch. Had a devil of a time finding the Pinkham B Road to the Triple Falls trailhead, and then the trail itself was too steep to hike comfortably, so we turned back at Proteus Falls. We then drove to the AMC Visitor Centre, and from there made the short climb to the impressive Crystal Cascade, lunched late looking at the mountains, and then made the descent to Glen Ellis Falls.

Rain in the forecast, so we are returning to St. Stephen early, tomorrow.

Saturday, 27 September 2008, 8:25 am

The rainfall obscured the daylight, so after a brief try, we abandoned any further looking at the autumn colours; and settled into some shopping, mostly for clothes, finding bargains at L.L. Bean and some of the factory outlet stores at Settlers’ Green. However, as shopping bores me intensely, I have given it up after several hours to return to working on poetry.


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