The flower stands before the risen bud
that will now begin to unfurl
its tight-wrapped leaves.
The flower grows inside
a sculpted hood with conical flue
to spread its influence
to early flies that seek
carrion to feed their grubs.
Together, maroon hood
and spring-green bud sing
their complement into the eye.
The plant is skunk cabbage, of course, a name worthy of a writer of tabloid headlines.
Stacked bands of sediment
compress eons to inches.
Today we have the history of sea.
Step into your eyes and let yourself sink
like the slow sift of lives tiny and shelled
down through miles of primordial water,
a fall through utter and seamless black.
Micro-shells bone white among plankton,
black as they left light epochs ago,
uplifted on land in limestone gray.
This boulder of ocean we fall through
broke off a ridge, fell into snow
that squeezed into glacier,
flowed ice-locked for nearly forever,
tumbled out into floury melt river
and rolled until rounded here now.
A beaver snacks on leftovers
kept cool in the pond,
nibbles and rolls as if
working on an cob of corn,
the scroll of teeth on cambium
flows across water, legato.
Such charm in expert hands.
A myrtle warbler takes a break
from hawking flies,
His flock surrounds a pool
replete with flies and midges.
Each time he perches,
his eyes cock up and down,
scan all around.
His flock of tiny birds frolics
zigzag above sunlit water
from ripples up to tree perch tops.
The birds feed long and well
to fuel the flight tonight
north again to nesting grounds.
This is the eastern yellow-rumped warbler. Who created such an unlovely name? AKA Myrtle Warbler. They are the most numerous, least cautious warbler. Hyperactive.
Giant Canada Geese contest place.
Both claim these ponds.
The more aggressive was first here,
he knows he has the right.
The other knows it too.
Both ganders trumpet in full voice,
display bright pink mouths,
but only one seems confident.
Suddenly, one gander lifts
his whole body up out of water
as if standing on his tail.
Will he fall upon his enemy?
The other gander fears that fall,
lays his head down on his back,
points his beak away,
a signal of complete submission
that ends the brawl
like wind lost from a sail.
Spring is greening,
and some of it bright red.
Maple flowers red in passing
blooded each growing samara,
the whirligigs that will soon
spin their seeds to soil,
where sprouted leaves
will soon green but first
must celebrate their heritage,
and acknowledge Fall.
Bits of sand came up with the new mushrooms,
little chunks of shining quartz.
Some darker bits are there as well.
I look with a jeweler’s loupe:
Magnified, the bits are living beings
Two antennae, two large eyes, heads,
roly-poly bodies, can’t see how many legs.
Earth always offers something new.
I am again spun into wonder.
Something about their eyes--
Too much eye shadow. My lips curve.
With an antenna spider silk thin,
one touches a quartz grain.
I have seen it.
A herd of these new beings
grazes every mushroom dome.
I move my hand, one herd is gone,
sprung out of sight, faster than my eyes,
and I know I am seeing springtails,
lives that populate the microverse of soil.
These cryptic little beings are globular springtails, Springtails are not insects, but tiny cousins. They are one of the most numerous animals on Earth, or I should say, in earth. Their springs catapult them into air twenty times their length.
This species is apparently Bourletiella hortensis.
A white violet opens to the light.
She pushed through the dark of fallen leaves
to seek the place she could make seeds.
She welcomes bees with purple lines
to guide them to the nectar pooled
down her throat just bee tongue length
and brush them with her golden anthers.
She hopes the bees will gift her stigma
with another violet’s pollen gold.
Earth in spring is all about exchange.
A muskrat parts the mirror pond,
swims through sunset light
held in the pond’s broad palm.
Muskrat speeds so to her den
that a bow wave made of ripples
pushes on ahead as she swirls
tree trunks and new leaves
into chaos sweet as small hands
stir with finger paints.
This is the face of a red tailed hawk
Who can no longer fly
and lives in sanctuary,
fed with soft human hands.
These eyes hold the fine stare
our eyes want to claim
as grief, or resignation,
or simply “Where’s my meat?”
It is tempting to fool ourselves into ascribing human feelings
to other predators, but to do so steals the other’s dignity.
A Giant Canada gander beats wings
and churns his body up
until he does a tail stand
in celebration of his mate,
while she demurely dips
to veil herself with bubbles,
moving toward the center
while he thinks sky.
A leaf born folded last fall
begins emergence into light.
As the leaf unfurls,
as sap fills veins
to push apart bud scales,
chloroplasts wake green
and begin to feed the tree,
as young of all kinds nourish elders.
This light the young contain
renews in us the spring.
The yellow warbler flits from
willow to willow, aspen,
flicks catkins with his flight,
sings at every stop.
My ramble prompts his passages,
perhaps I grow his bounds.
I know his song soars mine.
Goslings gold churn windy water,
these two of the clutch that still survive.
Two months before the goslings fly.
To keep them growing and alive,
parents must drive off raccoon and fox,
hawk and eagle dropping from the sky,
and chance a snapping turtle from below.
Every parent, every brood: O and O and O!
A painted turtle carries eggs
to plant in warm sand
in this her time,
as mother did,
and her great- and greats-
stretched back deep
into the spiral dark
long before the dinosaurs.
Her features are fixed, but
if we see expression here,
it’s of a mother implacable
knowing none of the above
but knowing this is her time.
Say one day this bright-eyed little heron
puts her best foot forward on the log,
stretching out her three long coral toes
where there’s nothing in the way,
when the Trickster sprite decides to play.
Her foot slides right and twists her legs
until her mind is tangled too.
It happens to the best of us.
Say now the Trickster’s watching you.
The Trickster rules with laughter, all lives subject to its tricksy ways. The small heron is Green Heron.
Oriole catches on his breast
the last light of the sun
as it filters leafing trees.
I am told he only reflects orange,
but clearly he steeps in sungold
and carries it within to share
with eyes that reflect differently.
As it arrives leaned low
evensong light lends itself
to seeing the primeval
in mosses on a hollow stump,
in sudden mutations
of expected sound and sight.
On bleached wood
the shadow of a fern frond
become a remnant ribcage
and fossil all in one.
The vespers of birds resonate
with that sense inside of echo,
and tokens of return.
Small on small today.
In a tiny spider’s web hang
three midges in death’s disarray.
They crept from the waters
trembling their wings last night,
and giddy, flew off to find an other.
plucked them from flight,
wings stilled, essence
drained Into an other.
As below, so above. The small predicts the large.
The heron is collecting twigs.
She may be new to this nest
adventure, for she shifts the twig
up and down her beak,
lifts it high above her head,
bends it low below the branch,
shifts her hold each time until
the twig slips out and falls.
Nesting is not simple.
She looks down a moment, flies.
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