Just in time for a summer wedding
the white hydrangea bloomed.
Both guest and greeter beside the mailbox
it grew from the gravel of decades of winters
plowed to the side of the road. Each white
puff a bridal bouquet, doubled in number
of blossoms this year at the time of the first
anniversary, with an added blossom
of the couple’s own: a baby girl, born.
Deer have nibbled bush and tree
have ended the blooming of phlox
before it began. What next?
Will they jump the fence
of the vegetable garden to join
the porcupine’s destructive way
in this year when he descended
the oaks for a taste of something
other than acorns? In one night
the green beans gone, broccoli
Swiss chard and kale ravished,
bolted lettuce left for us.
Is there time for a second planting?
The triple threat of goldenrod
aster and ripening elderberry
signals No! But why not gamble
on a late frost? Let’s put the seed
in the ground and mark it “hope.”
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.
It’s the first week of February.
Wild apples picked in October
have shriveled into themselves.
No longer suitable for apple pie
we dump them out for the herd of deer
that haunted our woods through
January, scavenging among spruce,
standing on hind legs in the snow
to reach the buds of high-bush and tree.
There’s no distinction on the ground––
everything was eaten as we found
the morning after a moonlit meal in Maine.
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.
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.