James Morehead’s “Twilight in the Sculpture Forest” Brought to Life in New Poetry Film

HALIBURTON, ONTARIO (CANADA)–The Haliburton Sculpture Forest, nestled in the Canadian wilderness, features forty sculptures created by artists from around the world, installed along 1.4 kms of hiking trails. The setting inspired a new poem by James Morehead (Poet Laureate – Dublin, California) and a film based on the poem, created by Brad Brown. We’re excited to share both the film and the poem that inspired the film.

Twilight in The Sculpture Forest
by James Morehead

The guardians have always stood
at the trailhead, rusting in the sun.
They are totems of a kind:
father, mother, and their child,
spines assembled from sickle and shovel,
discarded metal things for arms,
queer unblinking eyes and smiles.
I do not linger for their blessing
when passing through the trees.
Gelert greets me: Irish protector,
majestic, cast in bronze,
nose ever tilting upward
to detect the scent of hunting wolves
on basswood, balsam fir, and pine.
I caress his cool back, then move on.
The forest pulls me deeper in
where Pan is playing on his flute,
each note suspended, held and silent,
embedded in Canadian shield.
Green-gray shadows fill my wake;
canopy diffuses all sunlight.
I pass a hiker in limestone:
they wear a badge of maple leaf,
ever autumn, reddish brown.
One foot forward, one set back,
a smile, a wink, or so I think,
for their face is featureless—
a simple orb of clean, smooth stone.
Curious, a chain mail book,
forged steel covers bolted down
and each page sounds a rattle and crash.
But, despite how long I gaze,
its mysteries—hidden still,
concealed by fire.
I almost miss her as I pass,
carved from Belmont Rose.
The sleeping huntress, feathered hair
and naked skin cut from a block,
then set upon the forest floor.
Up ahead a beaver sits,
drawn from cement, with iron teeth,
to gaze upon a single lamp post:
steel, graffitied, out of place.
Turn the corner a granite gneiss dome,
low arched door and bench inside;
I rest awhile where echoes dwell.
     “Silence is the language of God,”
Rumi’s words inscribed,
     “all else is poor translation.”
I’ve lingered long, twilight has come,
the sculptures now—no longer stone.
Welded wire forms a man:
his arms reach up to welcome night,
unsettling, just mesh for skin.
They came before
                               (now all sleep)
Each paralyzed
                               (secrets to keep)
So I lie
                               (but for a while)
At midnight’s turn I try to rise,
limbs locked in place, bereft, alone,
until I hear
                  footsteps are near,
what are these passersby to think?
I cannot call
                     tongue turned to stone.

The Haliburton Sculpture Forest began as a project of the Arts Committee of the Haliburton County Development Corporation which was focused on local economic development through the arts. The objective was to create a destination for residents, visitors and tourists which highlighted the visual arts in Haliburton County.

Today, the Sculpture Forest is an ongoing initiative of Haliburton Sculpture Forest et al, a non-profit organization. Our mission is to bring together art, nature and people of all ages; creating a place for discovery, exploration, creative expression, and contemplation.

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