Bones and seedpods
of the summer garden
collaborate with frost
to flower once again,
as if to show the seeds in pod
how this thing is done.
First, Be open to the sun.
Yes, petals vanish into bright,
that your seed will feed
An elephant seal scratches
its mammal nose,
as all we milkfed cousins do.
First digits fused, still
five long nails attend
to the sensual necessity
of scratching an itchy nose.
The phase of H2O that flows
shows the solid phase of H2O
that on this snowy slope no
way can ice freeze the flow
and churn of waterfalls on stone.
A flock of migrant avocets
lifts in unison to sky,
wheels as one, sinks back
as one to the salt flats.
Eclipse plumage in fall,
but their wings still
flash black flash white
in numbers that baffle the eye.
I’ve not met avocets before,
but have long cherished
pictures of the avocet beak
turned up at the end, with
that aristocrat’s air of surprise.
A roll of bark on a rock is a shock,
an image of death hollow and agape.
Amazing how Earth placed
a dead white fish eye just there.
That vile yellow doesn’t help.
Why does this mask invade my eyes?
Earth is an eerie teacher.
Today we have Ambiguity.
Walking in a woodland yields an awkward moment.
Two ironwood trees kiss without decorum.
I look down, abashed, and see
that they are twin scions of the same root.
They are one, and proving it.
That’s even worse.
Love thyself, say the life coaches.
But this abandoned kiss looks too wet,
too sappy, too publicly displayed.
How can Mother Nature be UnNatural?
From withered ruins seed pods
emerge blushed in sunlight
that glows through parent leaves.
This is what is, and I greet this
seed-budding with a smile that knows
such hope will grow forward in time
and present itself to quickened eyes
after my kind is dust again.
A thin bridge of ice, clear
but for a clouded center knot,
and stubborn crystal
whose time is short
above the stream.
The clear bridge will fall
into flow and dissolve,
as too-soon must we all.
The last to join will be
that center knot of cloud.
Foot thick ice reveals brown leaves
that have wintered in its grasp.
The ice around the leaves is clear,
a hint of water dark below.
Colored leaves take up warm sun
more than sheathing ice, create
pools of clear that freeze, refreeze
laminated lenses, blurred.
I wonder, does dark experience
work like this in mind’s memory?
Vision through stacked lenses?
A red oak leaf finally fell
after months of winter,
not to snowpack but
to skim ice that will melt
as sun climbs sky today.
The oak leaf will slowly
soak up water now
returned from crystal blue
and sink to a bottom thick
with dark leaves and beings
busy on them and below,
where turtles will soon lift heads
from mud and wake light.
Spring hormones surge now in bloods.
Males get up on top of things,
crow and beat their wings,
play monarch of the barnyard junk.
Females caught in surging flood
renew reveries of eggs, find
spring males more interesting
after months of somewhat-smiles.
The day after snow melt,
leaves unfold and push
toward sun and sky, push
against the planet’s pull
that layers oak leaves close
to soil for earthworm mouths
that even now tunnel up
to enrich the new green’s food
and tilth for wending roots.
Orange legs churn water
in a snowmelt pool
as mallard drakes contest
for the pretty hen who
has wisely sunk all
except her eyes below
the water surface.
The other ducks pretend
to ignore it all as if
New Yorkers become duck.
We are so tender toward the young.
Gentle in our eyes are lives just opening:
Smalls, the risen seed, the nestling’s gape,
grasshopper nymph in perfect miniature,
a tulip bud just coloring,
the spotted fawn in ferns,
all the small who are potentials,
all the lives of innocence:
but how helps this our survival?
Why feel so far beyond our kind?
Perhaps to make us tender
for a moment toward our selves.
Lakes grow stubborn ice.
Out a ways, a foot-thick still,
but here near shore life slowly heats.
Algae on stones begins to capture sun;
below bleached blades, green shoots
reach. Daphnia and cyclops
swim again in tiny darts. They will
be growth for fish fry soon to arrive.
As we drink him with our lifted skins
Sol rolls higher, higher into sky.
Tooth marks ring acorn husks.
Snowmelt reveals a mouse house.
Could be a midden of voles,
could be a midden of mice,
but mouse house sounds nice.
Tough acorns, bits of oak leaves
and duff are being dissolved
and imbibed by snow mold
doing decay webbed white
as where it thrived on ice.
Life is all abubble in the spring--
Or has methane kick-started with decay?
You can’t have one without the other.
Green duckweed starts the feast again.
Deep down, kingdoms of microbes
thrive on what’s fallen from above.
Every molecule has lived countless times
before this time and will again,
even those you just took in
and those you just breathed out.
The circle is turn and turnabout
and Assemblage is Earth’s fine art.
A seedling white pine sprouts
from a fallen white pine log.
The dead provides for the alive.
White rootlings explore decay for food
the nurse log well provides.
Birth needles dry brown to shed.
Today the seedling turns two.
Nurse logs are the fey humor of Gaia.
Skunk cabbage is in flower
even as its pollinator flies still
wriggle in their pupal cases
or lie stunned beneath leaves.
All the pollen is untouched.
Still too cold to waft about
the meat-rot stench of come-on.
None of that bee-flower “Come hither,
Sweet,” for old Skunk Cabbage--
We took another path—Flies are easy,
especially wet-wings who don’t know
how tricksy flowers are. “Sorry, bug eyes,
no nectar here. No carrion either
to lay your fly-eggs on.” Skunked!
When willow catkins
swell aside dark bud scales
with plush white down,
Spring is truly born.
How this takes me back.
How this spills me
into a stream of elation
far older than my kind
and laves my spirit clean.
A branch of birch cut clean
from its tree sprawls
on crisp browned leaves.
The cut is dry, but
the branch refutes death.
At its tips, catkins
pushed by final sap
complete their flowering.
When I touch them,
bright pollen paints
the leaf below
with the gold it held
before it fell.
A chipmunk freezes when
I lurch into his day.
He is poised, still.
I watch his toes arch,
claws in wood,
muscles set to fly.
I know his eye has
captured me, reflects me
when I zoom.
Does he know
he’s not invisible?
When I glance away
Sap is rising in the maples sweet.
Taps hammered in, fluid sugar
drips to bags and buckets
to be evaporated until syrup.
Others have the sweet tooth too.
Squirrels bite smooth sapling bark ,
lick the dark rivulet of sap.
Chickadee likes it, licks it too
with tongue but without teeth.
Today I find taps woodpecker hewn,
not small sapsucker drills, but
excavations of the redbelly kind,
one dripping to the other.
This woodpecker is wise.
It knows that two taps dripping sap
will yield more sweet evap.
for its probing bristled tongue.
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