In the dark night in cold
that can crack trees,
the water of this hill stream flows,
and of its vapors, night grows
twigged dendrites on stream stones.
These bitter nights pass
beneath a firmament of stars,
each a hard bright spangle on black
rivaled when sun reveals the frost
that grew a crystal moss
upon numbed stones.
Winter is a cold drab.
Eyes crave color
Attend when it appears,
In a little brown bird
Pine siskin flutters in to feed,
Bright edges line folded wings.
Eyes drink the yellow,
Widen at the quick red tongue
A sudden blood kin.
A tiny female bird dips her head
capped with rich red
as if to point out that males
do not hold exclusive rights
to the name Redpoll
Hairy Woodpecker begins to
unreel his harpoon tongue
toward the suet on a feeder.
his tonguetip is fishhook barbed
to pierce and pull out grubs from
caves he’s drummed into troubled trees.
Just behind the gray tip
the tongue is bright with red
and longer than seems could be--
(no room in an inch-long bill)
the tongue wraps all the way round
the back of Hairy’s skull,
a marvel of adaptation
in Time’s long do-si-do
between hungry bird and bug.
The seeds of sweet cicely now hang above snow,
the trap set, awaiting fur or clothes to grasp
to spread themselves throughout the land,
the drive that fuels all life on Earth.
When sweet cicely seeds are green in June
pluck and chew, a burst of anise on the tongue.
But when the same seeds dry
points harden to sharp teeth
and barbs crust their fishhook skin.
They say that cicely seeds don’t leap
to jeans or fur, but I think that jury’s out.
They like to pierce skin through socks.
A winter walk or ski in woods collects
painful proof that cicely leaps and rules.
Responses to the long-billed curlew are charming. Great fun.
Please don’t hesitate to offer praise to writers whose work strikes a chord in you. Drop me an email and I will forward to the author.
Slow the tide drifts back to sea
Sleek and wet you walk with me
Cross footed you mimic my every move
I wonder are you’re making fun
Or simply wary as you strut along
Should I misstep and trip you up
I too watch you
Grateful for the company … ‘til
So much like all of life
You slowly fade back … into sand
~~Gail Fonnest, Minnesota
The tide recedes.
The morning comes.
A curlew dances at the water's edge.
This girl looks sleepy
but she knows her moves - rehearsed,
perfected by Deep Memory.
Her legs are crossed.
She's toeing out, in fifth position -
to the point that wings and webs allow.
Soon she will dip and bow,
drill her long, curved bill into the sand
to find a sweet reward.
For now, she holds her stance. We pause
and hold our silence.
Natural grace needs no applause.
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Not One Feather Out of Place
You are elegant beyond repair
You step lightly in a ballet move I do not know
Head held just so
Eyes half closed
To see if it is you
That I behold
You bring shush of ocean
Waves from round the world
Wind with a whiff of summer
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
Curlew, placemaker of grace
in this Now
with certainty you stride the beach
each track erased in a wave behind you
~~Marcia McEachron, Minnesota
It all hides in a wide open
where the fox runs in the sky,
and the stump flicks an ear
traffic buzzes like a bee.
~~Marcia McEachron, Minnesota
Change In Plans
Okay now, folks! Listen Up!
The beach will be closed today.
We have a large curfew of
curlews who have just flow in
from the Upper Midwest.
Sorry about the day at beach
you might have planned
with the kids.
They’ll get over it.
There is a nice beach at
San Raphael de la Augustino,
just 12 miles north on the
Please don’t be offended
by my honesty. It is
just my tribute to the
respect I know you
have for an
Plus One Fine Kid’s Poem
Cold, mist, and water.
Splash! Long bill, webbed feet.
She walks along her water logged path.
Her happy blackberry eyes sparkle.
Why does she fill us with wonder?
~~Torianna, Age 12, Minnesota
Snow falls without end from gray sky
Snowflakes hard and small as rice
Pileated’s pupils open wide
Time to silence gut’s cry
The power of red against white
This intensity of eye
Drop by drop the icicle drips,
spring’s first metronome.
Water gathers into a teardrop,
lets go and falls, simple as that.
But not today. Water is the Mystery of life
the mystery our bodies are.
Our brains are 90 % inspired puddle.
Today the drip of icemelt shatters
into four drops, a fat globe first,
then three silver balls,
small, smaller, tiny
release and fall, but all
too fast a trick for the human eye.
I wonder, does the Mystery outside the brain
chuckle when it pulls off this trick?
Two downy woodpeckers at the feeder.
The red-splash male was here first.
When the female flashes in, his head
snaps 180 in panic. If I can’t see her,
maybe she can’t see me. He flees.
It makes this observer laugh—they’re a pair,
she’s angry--been there, done that.
But I’ve not been a woodpecker and
as I once said with young wisdom’s air,
I must not lay my trip on them.
She might be the aggressive daughter
who pecked him hard before she fledged.
Or his last three summer matings ended badly.
Or he’s a hermit, panicked by his kind,
But I like my first thought better.
One Fox walks down the frozen stream,
The dot-dot of her paws dark in snow.
From the right, Fox Two joins the trail.
After early mis-steps, he walks precisely
in Fox one’s tracks, for they are mates.
In public, they say, we are One, we rule snow,
we rule mud—we can blinker you anytime.
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