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John Caddy
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Morning Earth Poems

by John Caddy

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In our brief thaw,
sap wells in the maples
to early bless the coming spring, but
in our snap of bitter cold,
sap drains down toward roots again,
except at this tender branch tip,
where last night a doe bit it off
and swallowed it to share with growing fawns.
At the bit branch tip, sap was free to drip
until cold slid in and grew a maple sapsicle.




A young rough-legged hawk
watches me watch.
He has flown down from the arctic tundra,
where he cracked his egg,
where he grew his flesh from lemmings.
To survey prey, he has learned trees
but he tires of my survey,
so leaps up and leaves.

Top predators leave us not from fear, but from simple irritation at our messing with the hunt. Food first.




Water freed from stiff ice
bubbles in elation,
a being released.
Flow races down,
ice-splash builds on stones,
grows surfaces quicksilver
as bubbles edged in sun.


A night snowfall with wind
plays with interlocking flakes
to create a landscape
to arch a morning eye,
a playground for
the vision of a child
where cornices of snow
grow shadowed caves
for beings too light and small
to leave tracks to mark
this smooth snowscape
from before the fall.




Two eagles in a field of grass.
One walks away, head thrust. I smile.
Their grown egg child
pokes about nearby.
A family takes the field,
three eagles on the ground.

If they were human
could I translate what I see?
Dad is stalking off,
Mom is not about to notice,
two pairs of eyes, fierce.
A performance watched
by their huge child.

But they are beyond me,
a gulf between, whole eagles
complete, not like human beings.
Still an anthro smile lingers:
I like Dad’s jeans.


Sometimes the mirror held up by Mother Nature is too much fun to ignore.




Snowmelt pools abound.
Buds on raspberry stems swell with leaf.
At night, soft petals of ice spoke out
from the pink hub of stem, the soft
flower prequelled in crystal.

As Buffy St. Marie put it, "Magic is afoot."



Shadows of winter grass stems
waver on the surface of the stream,
fed by new snowmelt under sun.
Dark shapes squiggle on flowing silver
except where the shadow of the bank
eclipses one truth with its own.



Sun has cut a hole through ice
above a flowing stream.
Now clouds, north wind,
air gasps into lungs.
Ice cannot abide a hole,
so crisscross crystal fingers quest the gap.
When a crystal grows to touch
another stretching finger,
it propagates as if alive
until (blink) the hole is closed.




Just north of the campground,
the St. Croix River has pitched
a long low tent of blue ice.
No net, no windows for the moon.
Blue light inside.
The ridgeline wanders.
Does the river mimic first-time
campers just downstream?
The ice-tent lifts where a rivulet
pours into the river.
Does the small stream
make the river sleepy?
Or is there something in the tent
no one is allowed to see?
Everywhere mysteries.
Everywhere blue conspiracies.



Last night raindrops fell before wind
found the temperature of snow.
This morning as sun begins to climb,
ice sings from every twig on every tree.
The smooth bark of maple shoots
reinvents itself as light-emitting-ice
in colors from sodium to blue.

Mother Nature came up with LEIs long eons before we invented LEDs. Once again, we are but clever eco-mimics. Notice how the ice indulges its hexagonal




Bright puffs of thistle seed
embrace the sun and bless
their strong and edgy stems
for holding them above the snow
so white filaments can ride spring winds
to likely soil and close the circle, grow.



Snow melts into moss
on a fallen log
and in bright cold
moss goes green
and begins to grow.

When moss first
clambered out from pond
that primal spring
500 million swings
‘round Sol ago,
it greened in melt
and showed
all the others
how to climb to land,
swallow bonus bright
to green and grow.

The early land plants, liverworts and mosses, had to solve the problem of more intense solar radiation than they received submersed.



Wind has carved a curve in snow
that eases wild raspberry stalks
into domesticated curves
arrayed as serried shadows across
the concave arc of drift.

Shadows may distort, but they may also smooth and soothe the eye.



A stubborn node of snow perches
on fallen wood in strong sun, as if this node
of crystal flakes have coalesced into a will
that opposes radiation in the infrared.
The wood around the node is dry to touch.
This resistance has gone on some time.
Looks kind of pinched, this left snow,
as passionate commitment can do to one.



Ice breaks up first at outlets,
where water most insists.
Ice lingers long at edges
where it was born.
It’s had its turn.
It is good to see liquid
mirror trees again, even bare,
for we know that on each twig
buds swell now with
tiny folded leaves inside.



Redwing blackbird males are back
and fuelled with survivor sass,
filled with songs of spring.
Hearts are glad, mine and theirs.
So far, each ignores the other males, but
soon longer days and surges in the blood
will prime them to pick out sites
to nest in and defend,
and favorite cattail stems to sway.
Feathers will expand like mammal chests,
and epaulets will become true fire.


Females will arrive in a month. They take their time, eat well, getting in shape to lay strong eggs. They are wise.



Direct from cold sleep,
a painted lady flusters
bright orange through sun-dazed air,
here, there, working sleepy wings.
She rests on curled oak leaves,
basks in wing-wide sun,
antennae tipped with light.
Her fur is my first flight of green.


Many authorities agree that our American painted lady cannot survive hibernation in northern winters. We had several spells of -20F below here this winter. This lady emerged on March 19. She maybe read a different book.



A woodland snowmelt pool
conveys red oaks standing tall
and their fallen autumn leaves.
Oak trunks plummet through
the wet-leafed mirror where
taproots do in truth plunge below
the frost that still grips fast
the first four feet of soil, laced
with roots eager to wake
and suck the mirror dry,
pump it up tall fountain trunks
to fill green leaves
and return the mirror to the sky.



A row of old mushrooms on a burned root.
Winter has tempered them,
brought inner amber to the surface.
Frozen and refrozen, dried and soaked,
the gills beneath hold spores still viable,
waiting for access to wind and wet,
welcome deadwood. Perhaps the gray mouse
who took two bites one cold night
will open wider doors to breeze
or with distaste for decrepit shrooms
knock one spinning to the ground.




I could be flying high above Yosemite.
Scale symmetric with mountains,
pond ice lessons me in topography.
This year ice is thick. Beneath these
eroded ranges that evoke early Earth
floats another foot of hard ice
that resists letting more light
flow to the pond bed where
painted turtles wait under
mats of old dead leaves
for light to rouse them.
Ice is in no hurry,
turtles rarely are,
but I am.


When the floodwater tops itself
with a thin scrim of slippery ice,
I watch a giant Canada goose place
each clawed broad foot with care,
looking down with each short step.

When my leg muscles tighten
I know I have many times been
this silly goose walking on thin ice,
and so perhaps have you ignored
the warnings.
But when my neck gets
scared, it does not find
that curl of cresting waves.



Announcing: Ours!
Family: I’m over here!
Pileated woodpeckers,
hitch up and down
the trunks of trees
in flooded bottomlands.
Under a cold sun
three great birds peal out
their descending
cascade of cries
one after another
again and again,
laughing, lifting.





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