Bluets first, then violets
backdropped by dandelions.
Daffodils going by, tulips
opening pastel wings.
Promise of iris in rising spears,
lily-of-the-valley set to bloom.
Across the field, the lilac tree
lifting soon-to-be fragrant cones
that one week hence in full bloom
will assault the eager bees.
Where shall I set my listening chair?
In the oak wood behind my house
where hemlocks stand and pines blow?
In the slightest breeze they wave their leaves
and needles as if in greeting. Through rain
snow, sun and ice, rooted in place
they live and die, making more beautiful
that one place, and that is enough, I believe.
We all know the snow is coming
forthwith, when we will hunker down
in cave, in house, in cold cellar.
Like dried hydrangeas and goldenrod,
all in our rooms, we’ll await the spring,
when re-seeded with life, we’ll emerge
into the fervent light.
As you enter the woods, there––
There I want my memorial service.
As you enter the woods, go up
the rise. Then stand there.
There is where I’ll be
waiting for you to enter the woods
to be lost, then found
by the hunter/gatherer of souls
who will carry us
through the woods together
then on into the fields of heaven.
What then I saw is more than tongue can say.
Our human speech is dark before the vision.
The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
As words failed Dante to describe Paradise
words fail me as I look to the woods
except for the barest verbal skeleton––
trees, brush, sunlight, shadow.
How common. How plain. How failed
a poet, who can only say thank you
for this holy day in mid-September
rife with aster and goldenrod
before the killing frost.
The plywood hammered into place
over plate glass windows.
Survival kits of band-aids, flashlights
sandbags at the reaches of the tide.
It’s a monster, they say, the coming
hurricane, christened Florence––
a name for a friendly waitress,
a name that might tame some of its power.
At the hurricane center, who names
has power. (Remember Adam
walking in Eden, naming, naming …)
Forecasters hang their hats on
multiple fictions. Powerless before
Nature, what else can they do but hope?
stewardship of the land we bought
when we were barely old enough
to grasp the meaning of being stewards
of what we had been given.
With age comes understanding.
With age comes sense of responsibility
to history held in the rings of the oak
in the whorls of pine crowned with cones
and even deeper in glacial stones
raked across this land in a distant time,
all of it passing through our hands
like water, as do the passing years …
And what we choose, our actions now
are the future for stewards who follow.