Each poem begins with a title, and in most cases a passage, from Josiah Gilbert Holland’s 1855 multi-volume book A History of Western Massachusetts. If Mercy Prevent Not, of the Same Bitter Cup Even the clouds, which are nothing, which mean nothing at all, are passing us by into their wars, their humidity. Forget everything I have been saying. Forget it all. Pay me no mind. Pay me nothing. The last thing I should want after these years among the fruits, the sugars, the glass dancing in the boiling water, is to be paid. In 1703 In 1703, the settlers, moved by the fact that they were in danger of overflows, petitioned for the privilege of moving back from the river, and building on the hill, half a mile Eastward. Their prayer was granted, and the town voted to give them ‘the land from Pecowsic Brook to Enfield bounds, and from the hill Eastward of Long Meadow, half a mile further Eastward into the woods.’ There is a boy who drowned in the river. There was a boy. The river every spring fills and the marsh grows into the forest, echoing its faint current among the trunks. The boy launched himself on a plank boat. We watched his leaving, saw him try the brown flood, the ropes, the reed fires and wet. There is no story to tell, he was hunting the turtles which were waking early from an early spring, strange on the tongue but good. His mother cried and his father but no one could say he was wrong to try. Every year the river floods, and every year we hunt turtles. They stud the washed-out logs with their honest frowns, their old-shoe serenity. They are a kind of pity, an under-abundance of everything we want them to have— tumorous non-flowers, exhausted in their rest. The days lengthen. I write letters to my own father and for his heartbreak at missing me he leaves them sealed as though I were not alive here to send them.