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For my sister

Once content with
familiar brooks
I feared intriguing
turns and stopped
the flowing
in my heart
that leads to
greater knowing

Then I dreamed
an undertow that
pulled and changed
my course
Forced to brave
a stranger stream
I worried where
it was heading

Now I know sweet
sparkling creeks
trickle in and out of
small ponds
But some fall into
currents swift
Into beautiful rivers and
Beyond

river into ocean

Top photo Chester Creek Trail in Anchorage, Alaska; bottom photo of Plawagan Puger, East Java by Ikhlasul Amal

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Consider the Lilies

Autumn

Barn swallows
puff up
and huddle
atop our cottage roof
sated with a summer
feast of mosquitoes
Cool morning mists
shroud their migration

Grapevines bare
their sleeping limbs
and russet colored
leaves fall beneath
a harvest moon
But scattered among
that leafy blanket
frosted purple grapes
burst and weep perfume

Winter

A solitary blue jay
that squawking sentinel
guards the snow-laden
gates to the woods
A brilliant cardinal  
pauses
garment aflame
Then flits over cedars
where tiny sparrows
shelter from the wind

Spring

Melodious
in the pond
thawing frogs
croak frantically
Look skyward
calling down the night
and sing to Orion
on his ever silent crossing

One night we ran
with the mayfly hatch
frenzied and free
dodging trees
And just before dawn
three lonely loons
called for each other
across twin lakes

Summer

Seven golden ones
honey combed
and milky breasted
Seven children
made a home
a sacred garden
Laughing little gods
on their greenest beds

At twilight
fireflies darted
their farewell flicker
among the leaves of the
black maple tree
Tiny stars
and dancing children
together beneath
an end-of-summer moon

Barn-Swallows-a-Tree-Swallow-1024x768

Both photos in the public domain, no attributions found

 

Wake Up

Ants cope better
They revive
Being good scouts
determined
to adapt and
sally forth
to defy
insecticides
meant to rout them

Will they
inherit the dirt
they already inhabit
Will there be
a dearth of humans
when asteroids
predicted or not
traject directly
from unseen hands
to silence
the talking species
Will we hear ants
celebrate

Or will it be
“Not with a bang
but a whimper”
An untraceable
genocide
unrighteously conceived
but plausibly denied
by those who deem us
so beneath them
A blight on our planet

Ants can’t write poetry
to magnify reality
or dignify their plight
or dance pointlessly
under starlight
dreaming into
their lover’s eyes
or create symphonies
or paint

What they do well
is cooperate
navigate without
technology
Communicate
on top of
and below ground
They haven’t a clue
about quantum computers
nor take their cue
from statistics
spitting fear and
paralysis

Ants just find
those nooks
and crannies
where toxins
cannot arrive
And faith
reminds us
We do not mind
that there are
flowers
which only blossom
in the night

Night blooming cereus

AntBridge Crossing courtesy Igor Chuxlancev; Night-blooming Cereus by Ernie Murphy

Distance

From an old bench
while basking in
late Autumn’s sun
I notice something
not belonging
among a mound
of large white rocks
piled on the edge
of our spring fed pond
first enlarged
by town founders
Truckloads of boulders
to shore up its bank
have arrived from elsewhere
like me
who chose this village
twice as home
with then without
spouse

A slender stalk of corn
only ten inches high
sprouts among
the white stones
from seeds sown
too late in summer
This plant has no reason
to grow here and now
for me to wonder about it
But I do

A solitary mallard
swims in the pond
by way of a woman
poor, a bit unusual
and often ridiculed
by locals
She loves and cares
for animals of all kinds
especially illustrated
by flea bites
Scabs and scars
spot her arms and legs

She found that glossy
green-headed duck
worried and waddling
through neighboring yards
and placed him lovingly
in our pond
He soars away daily
to visit nearby waters
but returns
Soon his friends
come to visit
Some stay

A man from another town
drives over once a week
his workday finished
and scatters seed corn
to feed our ducks
and other birds
I’ve chatted with him
We’ve both spent time
with the duck lady
as she’s also known

Greedy squirrels
born here
don’t need to be fed
among plentiful hickory and oak
some of these planted too
The little hoarders
skitter and scamper yearlong
Today one glares at me
for an uncomfortable
amount of time
when I dare
to usurp a bench
she’s staked out
as her luncheonette

But no birds or squirrels ate
that particular yellow grain
faithfully scattered
on the grass
near water and stone
And I wonder
who else has noticed
this tiny futile stem
held “green and dying”

In our cherished park
meeting and greeting
each from afar
we can never
fathom the depth
of knowing how
the heart
never sows out of season

Clouds and corn

Top photo courtesy White-Rock-Lake Blogspot; bottom photo by Dani Simmonds

Sleight

Spring can be so
winter encumbered
I learn to walk again
layered in a long-sleeved tee
and hoodie sweatshirt
and bulky jacket
and thermals
and jeans
But the sun is hot
and will no doubt
spot and freckle
my hands and face
The old woman
I never saw myself
becoming

Far into the woods
tracing my familiar path
around the little lake
worried frogs launch
from their spawning shore
stir up muck and lurk undercover
Minnows dart beneath
woolly floating leaves
survivors of last Autumn
then frenzy back
into clear warm water
when I pass
They pull up short
out in the deep cold
murky center of the pond
where bigger fish await
to feed off their mistaken
direction

A giant carp slowly
trolls the shallow water
surrounding the island
roiling up mud and
purling water along its shiny back
Game fish lie in wait
and jump
to snap up bugs
I rarely see them hit
but hear the splash and
watch concentric circles
left behind
calmly disappear

I nearly submerge a memory
one you often asked me to remember
that pale yellow sundress
with little blue roses
and twenty tiny buttons down the front
You plucked a wild violet
from behind my ear
as if you could
keep me fooled

 

Common_Dog_Violet_(Viola_riviniana)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_421761

Photos courtesy Wikipedia Commons

(Top: Jorg Hempel, Bottom: Mary & Angus Hogg)

Through

The sun is
a weary yellow
behind flat gray sky
this December noon
Not like autumn
when that brilliant kingfisher
first came to our park
bluer than sky
diving in the glassy pond
rising with his juicy sustenance
Today he wings from tree to tree
eyeing the cold little abyss
rattling his dry raspy chatter
Flies away hungry

They say there’s danger
for the halcyon
as it plummets
from such high places
Birdwatchers tell the story
of a kingfisher
that dove into a lake
broke its wing and slowly
bled into the water
its mate frantic and circling above

I rise from my bench
solitary and free
wander off the path
with memories of green
Some leaves and twigs crunch
over mud not quite frozen
Blotches of thin ice
coat dark puddles

Sundress and straw hat
packed away for summer
bundled in my down jacket
I persist
Hobbling with a cane
twenty-six winters now
The invisible beacon
faithfully leads me on
I dream of spring

kingfisher autumn

Top photo courtesy J.J. Harrison; bottom photo by Andrew Mckie

Shakespeare in the Park

Scene One
In spring, well rehearsed
bright yellow flags appear
opening this matinee
At center stage rear
the duck’s behind, up-so-down
gets top billing
He does headstands and frolics
dives and eats God-knows-what
sucking muck
from the bottom of the pond

Scene Two
Robins bicker
They flit and fly
off then on
the broken branches
of this salvaged prop
an ice ravaged
but still pink
blossoming hawthorn
They hop down behind a
curtain of falling petals

Scene Three
As I leave my front row seat
startled bullfrogs plop
into the sun-footed light
shimmering on the lagoon floor
For this surprise encore
I smile applause
Another wonderful performance!
The park’s the thing
wherein I catch
the play