The season is at last
suffused with pollen gold.
Afternoon sun behind alder catkins
defines the fine word “glow.”
All this pollen wakes my
molecular spirit whole
and rushing outward
from my core, a flow
of kinship and accord
that lasts as long as I don’t think.
As Yoda may have said one time,
“Better I should know.”
There’s a woman in this red oak,
a dryad less shy than most.
She bends round as if she laves her hair.
She is not yet entirely here,
her features vague, but fair.
One could say she’s coming out,
a dryad debutante demure in bark.
A red oak tree sprouts from an acorn
dug in, white root already inches down,
first leaves beginning to unfurl into
a lifetime of sunlight and breeze.
Nestled on a scrap of old leaf,
a sister acorn lies dead, holed
by the weevil larva that ate the meat
and tunneled out. Even now the grub
pupates in soil an inch away--
Two lives linked within the circle
turning here since glacier melt,
one the feeder, one the fed.
All the long brief winter days
I felt flower buds’ slow swell
amazed again to see growth
burgeon in cold light. Then
the solar rush of heat,
the waking roots. Sap.
Now the sexual flourish,
now red maple flowers open to
their inconstant lover wind
and their sleepy lover bees.
Even as sweet sap drips from taps
and tongues lick sap from bark,
pollen lifts into the breeze while
chickadee beaks probe blossoms
for small insects eager to taste
pollen gold at least this one time.
Next to a woodland pool
a fern lamp seizes my eye,
last year’s frond tattered but
living green, lit by risen sun.
Ancient plants are hard to winterkill.
Moss still green reaches light.
All this grows in winter’s litter.
Leaves curl in vein-ridged relief,
these leavings of upstart trees,
their threads spiral cut
in fernlight and shadow
as if ready to drill back into dark.
A dead tree, no bark.
incised in wood an iconic Bird
with upturned bill.
Beneath oak bark
a beetle larva chewed free
this bird with mandibles.
What went on here years ago
Under that living bark?
Insects dominate the living Earth.
Most insects kinds are beetles.
Evolution is continuous.
Favorable mutations are rare
but tend to repeat.
Say that some mutant larva
was impelled toward art.
Say the feared archetype Bird
inhabits the larval unconscious.
As the cavemen of Chauvet
painted their Cave Bears,
so this beetle grub chewed
Bird into wood.
Say memory is lost
to metamorphosis, so the adult
beetle cannot see the Bird
or feel the yearning toward
expression its genius larva felt.
Out of the mandibles of babes…
Say it’s sad.
Startled myself today
in the ragged mirror
of an old puffball
that survived the snows
and holds safe its spores.
The true puffball
waits among the duff
of needles, twigs and moss
for a chance paw or hoof
or sudden slam of wind
to sow its one-celled seed.
The mirror puffball awaits
the slam of hoof or wind,
behind a sporifying grin.
The wood duck drake
centered in ripples,
stands on his tail,
red-eyed with spring desire.
His colors play like driftwood
flames from salted sea,
as he beats his iridescent wings
into a fine display
for the watching hen.
It is fitting that rings surround
this young spring male, who
knows he is the center.
Paired sandhill cranes get close
just before crossing bills.
It’s mating time. They find
each other’s eyes. Cranes
connect like us, dance better.
Wings help, and long legs.
They sing in unison twice a day,
throw heads back and bills up,
voiced horns roll for miles.
Once Mother of Tall, low
ground pine asserts herself
by lifting above old leaves.
Three hundred million
years down time’s spiral,
ground pine invented Tree.
She soared 50 meters,
scaled trunk bare,
leaves waving at the top.
Those old trees now are coal,
as are the giant horsetails
that also invented Tree
and climbed the sky.
Now these prickly survivors are reduced to Christmas wreaths
lit by LEDs powered by burning fossil coal made of their own ancestors.
Ice-out was early by weeks,.
Revived painted turtles
swirl now about the pond.
Their bodies stir toward
mating. Males flex long
claws, swim around tickling
girls’ sweet striped faces,
forelegs trembling. If
she swims away, he
follows. With luck
she will tickle him back,
and the bonded pair
sink to the pond floor for
a tilted union of two shells.
“I feel pretty, oh so pretty…”
And you are, early among flowers,
your veined petals discretely blushed
to anticipate your darkened leaves.
Your anther corona offers pollen
enough for buzzing clusters of bees,
that will lap nectar pooled at your heart.
May your ovary be filled
with cross-pollinated seed.
Sorry if I’m too personal,
But you are oh so Pretty.
Pretty little flower insulted by the fool botanist who named it False Rue Anemone. Veined petals do blush, but not because they are less than true. Why name true beauty false? The failure lies in the dullard eye. Apologies to Stephen Sondheim.
A little wolf spider proves again
the horror movie theme:
fear lives in the shadows.
In this sunstruck day,
cast shadows magnify each leg
Tiny this wolf hunter is,
but her fitful shadows dance
across imagination’s screen.
Great blue heron visits the duck pond
where he hunted in his youth.
Mallard is serene at the point of his wake,
and Wood Duck sieves duckweed.
Tranquil is the scene and calm delight is me.
Each of these three is aware the other two
don’t care about his presence. It’s not
like there are eggs in nest. It’s not like
the old man with camera had walked close,
when all would leap up and fly.
No need. I too bask in the grace
of wood duck, mallard, and heron
though only at distance may it warm me.
Trumpeter swans grace the marsh again.
Blessed my eyes again by each long curve of neck.
The pair are wise to watch in two directions,
the caution of the season. Soon she will lay,
and soon cygnets will run the gauntlet of beak
and tooth that seek prey : In the egg: clever raven,
clever crow, quick-fingered raccoon, black bear.
In night nest: great horned owl, coyote, fox.
on water: snapping turtle rising, eagle hurtling down.
It’s hard to raise a clutch entire; young pairs fail,
experienced succeed, true of two legs, true of four.
This pair’s bearing feels experienced, mates lifelong.
Blessed my eyes by sweet neck curve, recurve.
of razor clam
Across the pearl
A wildflower bud links me
to every watchful human eye
that ever saw this bud of spring
and told its mouth to smile,
kneeling elder, wobbly child.
I fall into such pools of time
most days and do not drown,
but rather I am found.
A skittish pair of sandhill cranes
leap up from marsh edge.
Their length of leg
and width of wing astonish,
and even more the primary
feathers, like fingers startled
into air. From the rear
how gray, how different from
the rainbows they create
in me as down they push
scooped wings, and that quick
crane winglift up to scoop air down.
But off they go, flight wired in
these past ten million years
at any strangeness odd as me.
In strong wind, petals become
chalices that keep pollen safe,
though no pollinators fly.
Sun has roused flowers
everywhere roots delve soil.
Bright light through leaves
gifts eyes with leaf-birth reds
below green, that will not show
again until leaves prepare to fall.
Birth and death again.
Pollen, fruit and seed.
Blown by winds, continuing.
In this season of rebirth
a tiger swallowtail flutters
down fresh from chrysalis,
to finish filling its wings
and heat new muscles warm.
Pure, this newborn joins
fresh seedlings on sand,
that drive roots down with
greened cotyledon leaves.
Swallowtail’s fur smoothes
itself from body to wing.
Yellow fur endears the fly
to the child within, gives
the butterfly mammal warmth.
Now new, in process as are we all,
Its wings fill and grow strong.
Last to completely expand
are the swallowtails that name.
As the infant adult is primed to fly,
the caterpillar fades without loss.
Tamarack flowers grace a soft-needled bough,
the red female lifts from her green bouquet,
the male yellow, depends directly from bark .
A small boy, long ago, witnessed a miracle,
ran back to the cabin to tell it,
lets the screen door slam:
‘A pine tree grew a red tulip! It did!’
The same boy, graybeard now, still feels
that first frisson of miracle when
he discovers tamarack in flower,
runs fingertips through her soft.
The male flower does not impress,
the female in her nest enchants.
Fiddleheads of Lady Fern
trigger patterns deep
in my unconscious.
The fetal knot, the slow uncoil,
the utter oddity of birth in flesh.
I concede the power of
the Lady’s fiddleheads,
though they do disquiet me.
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