The Place That Knows You: A Poem for Ralph Lutts

Ralph opening a gift from the faculty, a ceramic wine cooler

Ralph opening a gift from the faculty, a ceramic wine cooler

Ralph Lutts taught at Goddard for 20 years and was instrumental to the Undergraduate program, the Goddard Graduate Institute (serving as one of the key faculty in forming this institute), and to many environmental studies initiatives, college service projects, and more. Here is a poem Goddard Graduate Institute Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg wrote for Ralph to honor him:

The Place That Knows You


In the woods, the trails you helped recover know you.

The trees too, green to green, stripped bare or heavy

with blossom as well as the slow moss that cushions

your familiar steps and patterns of exploring. Layers

of shadow on shadow trace your shape. The light in

between, crowded with fliers and fallers, edges your

stories. The air welcomes you back, and the graveled roads.

The memories in the walls — the Cottage, the Manor,

the Community Building — heard about how Rachel Carson

lit the lantern for us, the trails of the old witch trials,

small towns in the Blue Ridge that made and shops

and gatherings out of the bones of history. The cafeteria

recalls what you said about bacon, being multi-placial

and human scales of home. Dewey dorm carries your tales

of why the mail carrier won’t chance your driveway,

Ralph and Caryn in recent years

Ralph and Caryn in recent years

and how you became the world’s expert on Bambi.

The students who threaded the library rows or followed

what you taught in the Clockhouse are better for

being with you. The faculty and staff, the Bohemian

Waxwings in one particular February tree, the snowstorms

that cycled through, the surprising thaws altogether compose

this grateful place that knows you, that will always know you.

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