Out from the soil compressed and waiting,
fern fronds stay until their stalk leaps tall
before they enter this bright and green,
leave the world of dark and curl, but still
we animals remember curl from our bloodbeat dark
and find it still in sleep, in night, enough
to know without knowing the uncoiling
pointed fronds of newborn fern,
and see again that life is one.
Moments of recognition transcend thought, we simply arrive in a curious place where long ago we may have often lived.
To bed early last night, lulled
in the tremolo of treefrog and toad.
Wake at two, eyes wide, only
my mind knows I need sleep.
I lie about, nurse my pain. Slowly
realize that the maple out the window
blinks with firefly light, they
waited for warm night
The amphibian chorus rolls in loud,
continues without pause.
A marsh and a maple tree,
singing and blinking, filled
with hopeful performing males
and females choosing but in no rush.
Fireflies, lightning bugs are the magic awake. At 4:20 the frogs abruptly stopped, an animal stilled them, or they took a break. Then the twitters of the birds, announcing. No song yet, just a lot of I’m here, here I am. At 4:45 the frogs return, loud as rushing water. Over frogsong lilts the first caroling of birds.
Someone named this baby
rat-tailed maggot. Harsh.
Not a tail. A long snorkel
to reach up from shallows and taste air.
Can hide submersed beneath an old leaf
as its long transparent breather
quests the tension of the surface.
Maggot? Try fly-child. Try
child of pollinating pretend-bee.
What’s in a name? Perception. The adult is a hover fly that mimics a bee, eats pollen and nectar, cannot sting, and pollinates lots of flowers.
Birds have grown, fledged, fled the nest
and now must feed themselves.
Early in the sun mama woodduck’s
brood feeds upon the duckweed pond,
seven dark ducklets range in an arc
before her. Father catbird perches in red osier,
watches a fledgling flutterwing before him,
refuses to go get bugs. That’s done.
Redwing chicks are everywhere, parents
still responding to wings fluttered with pathetic skill.
Fledged tree swallows line the wires
across the road from the nest box, feathers clean.
How they dash off pursuing passing flies, still
jerky in the jinks, not yet smooth, concise.
Parent birds look frayed where their breasts
have rubbed the nest hole a thousand times
to feed the gapes that launch their endless hunt.
But two fledgling swallows lie on blacktop,
broken, feathers blue bright where
not jumbled white or red.
Young lives end so easily, so emptily.
Toward dusk, new rosebreast grosbeaks
come to feeders, throats aglow with gold.
Some six billion birds came north to breed, replace themselves. North America is an insect cornucopia, a flower fest, with berries for the summer’s end. There may be 20 billion birds here now, but most of the young will not live out the year, which is simply how things are, and were for our kind not so long ago, as these things go. Such beauty in the young, such eternal hope.
Two days I’ve watched ruby-throat
hummingbirds inscribe invert parabolas on air.
The male flies high then dives straight down
and pulls-out straight up from arc’s bottom,
all so fast no time escapes,
but somehow imprints on my retinas.
He repeats this rainbow upside down
three times or four, perches a high oak twig,
rests ten seconds, dances more or flies
to sudden distance, vanishes. Somewhere
close the female watches suitors
swoop. She does not swoon but will
choose soon and feel an other’s hammer
heart beat with hers within green leaves.
The red gorget earns the male a chance to dance and win a mate. That’s all he does. When the male dances his heart rate climbs to over a thousand. Once mated, she will build a careful nest the size of a walnut half, line it with her down, plant living lichens on the outside of the cup as disguise, lay two eggs and feed the nestlings for three weeks, when they fledge.
Nest photo courtesy of Vel. See more here:
Cranesbill is in full face and flower.
These blossoms own the power of facing you,
looking, as only wild flowers do.
They are not bred to be compliant,
like their garden cousins. They lift
from dark and green and stare
most bold. I feel them at it, and spin quick,
look to catch them staring, and they rarely
even look away—they catch me then,
these bright five-petal faces, dare me
deep and under hill, dissolve me
in their beauty and their lifting
lilting faces, set me free, lifted high
above the shadow under green.
Cranesbill, aka wild geranium, glories every local woodland now, in all the subtle shades of pink. Spent, the petals fall to shades of blue.
How wet black bark
turns leaves more green, how
soaked wet leaps bark to eyes,
leaps leaves. A night of storm
and pulse-shocked sky, wind-torn leaves
and maple seeds scattered
on the deck, but ah, in morning
how bark wet black
turns leaves more green.
But ah, today, how eyelids fall.
There’s nothing like a two hour continuous lightning storm to blow away any sense of power. Pure exhilaration puts a keen edge on night but denies sleep
Here’s a little extra:
Lightning plays behind wind-tossed trees
as thunder rolls from everywhere,
and through the thunder,
riding loud wind upon wind
wild singing of the frogs.
Such music of June nights, when approaching storm is a promise of wind enough to carry away flower petals, branches, hearts. The frogs singing loud praise are connoisseurs of coming rain.
Barred owl close by hoots
three times. From distance,
another replies in kind. I smile.
It’s good to be answered
Then the close owl opens its beak
and performs three minutes
of incredible rolling bubbly music
from deep in the throat
to deep in my ears.
I find zero reference to this music-making in any source.
The mystery is bewildering. Be wilder ing. From
archaic wilder "lead astray, lure into the wild.”
Fledglings at the feeders everywhere,
first clutches grown and on their own
before mid-June, some ragged yet,
ungroomed, some are chippy at the feeders,
probably the first egg laid, tilt
their heads becomingly, these cardinals
and rose breast grosbeaks, feathered full
and fast, as the daisies lining roadsides
of this northern summer soaked so far by rain,
redtop grasses now in flower, soon in seed.
The rush is on. Growth and green and seed. Hatches of blue damselflies sudden and all through fields. Deerflies soon.
This beetle after rain seems curious,
wagging antennae so long they seem spurious.
He peers upon the edge of a pointy leaf
and over the edge of a blade grass green.
I wonder what expanded receivers say?
And why are they so long?
They must get in the way and break,
or else be very strong.
They probably speak of food and pheromones,
so when the hormones flow none will be alone.
I’m told the beetle antennae segments total eleven,
which excess may explain the length,
but not the shift of dark and light
to make a fetching stripe.
This inquisitive beetle tickled my fancy, even though he has formidable mandibles. We here are so relieved by a break in the rain that we become quite silly.
Wild roses. Fair gift to the eye, but
the pollinating beetle in the center of the rose
can not know what waits below the pink
petal curved up so delicately next to him.
Look. Below the petal, there—tips of two legs,
two of eight that lurk beneath the beauty.
If this were fiction one would say ‘dramatic irony.’
But this wolf spider will rush out and try
to catch and liquefy its prey, no irony.
That is life in flowers wild.
A second rose, also wild, catches the eye,
no pollinator here, but lovely red-orange anthers
bob in late light, their filaments sunray
from the ovary that waits for pollen touch
to grow a hip and seed. Look twice.
Next the anthers, sprawled across petals
a long legged crab spider, white, but pale pink
cast, because it is wise enough to haunt the westmost
petal in this sunlit afternoon so it remains unseen.
That, and a summoned stillness only predators
by nature know, for this is all by nature now.
This melding (or conflation) of wild beauty and wild danger is the context of our human childhood; Nature has ever been our lessoner. Jean Jacques Rousseau should have taken more walks out of doors, and watched something beyond the contents of his skull. I have emphasized the contrast in these two photos to make the spiders a bit more visible. Our eyes see these things better than the camera lens.
Here’s a flower trumpeting joy
for pollination, fifteen sky-blue horns
erupt from the delighted center,
and bless the furry bumblebee who
perches at the hub
of this mountain bluet’s world,
to stimulate the seed
which is the center too,
for Earth’s as many centers
as she has beings
and each one
delights another’s seed.
The flower is Centauria montana, a wildflower of the Rockies, aka Mountain Bluet. I love the thrust of this flower in full spread.
A little green bug peers at me
over the alfalfa flower adrift in a hue
somewhere between purple and blue.
All over Earth, little green bugs are
drinking nectar out of flowers.
To eat from a flower red or blue
is to court being food, few
flowers are green for camouflage.
Little green bugs are juicy and fat
and tasty if you are a hunter of small
grass-green insects that try to hop away.
A little green bug has stolen my eye,
and charmed the mind behind to green.
These are the little guys that scurry around to the other side of the flower when you blunder into sight. They have an elfin quality in improbable bodies with green eyes.
She is made of glow and edge
like shattered isinglass,
so huge her eyes that see
in multiples and wide,
the golden spots that dance
from thorax down her abdomen,
so articulate her exoskeleton,
how she flies close to the male
and clatter-crisps his wings
so he will chase, and if he wins,
curl the mating wheel with him.
Dragonflies in numbers dash now around the shores of lakes and ponds looking for mates and prey. When they spot another dragonfly of any species perched upon a cattail they fly to it to see this is the other. With a wing-chatter the two often discover they are of kinds too different. According to dragonfly expert John Arthur, the lady above is a twelve spotted skimmer.
A lily pad in a green tube lifts
from mud to sun, smooth in,
veins out, a tube filled
with tension and extension
As each curled life one time uncurled,
uncurls, and rooted in all
that has sifted to the bottom,
smooth side up
tries to green the fire.
An unrolling leaf submersed has a slow cool beauty that is before any use--becoming food, or a birthing place for a damselfly nymph to clamber out on.
Old telephone pole, big
hawk on top. Hawk
drops off the pole
and slides down air,
talons swung front,
wings spread and still
until he Vs wings and falls
a moment or for ever,
owl-quiet on the vole.
Eternal relationships are time-free and take us way down the backalong. This was a harrier, aka marsh hawk. How long have humans hid behind a bush or tree to watch hawks hunt?
Ox-eye daisy dances now
the north sides of the roads,
brightens our eyes with her own.
Romantic girls carried ox-eye seed
oversea long ago,
for without her hundred petals
waiting to be disrobed,
how could a body know
if he loves her, yes or no.
Farmers find ox-eye noxious for she competes too well with pasture grass. Perhaps they should invite all the lovelorn lads and lasses to come pluck the daisies from their fields, and cast secret smiles when the answer's "Love's me," and wounded glances when it's "…Not."
Here’s Daddy Longlegs, climbed
to the top of a weed
as we might climb
to the top of a tree, his
eight legs angled and crookt
as if to see
how many sharp knees
a daddy longlegs can be
when he’s bent out of shape
in the top of a weed.
Is he lurking to ambush prey? Imagination fails to see him mounting a rush attack as he tries to get all his legs unwound and moving. Maybe he’s just basking in sun.
The last low light
glows trees across the pond,
some green, gold,
a few upright lines of birch,
standing gray elm
Seeing this, being within
this last gold light
from matte to 3-D.
The qualities of light are endlessly variable. Around trees, each leaf-bounce changes all. The light that summer sunsets cast eastward can be almost too effulgent.
Ant is the seeker of nectar,
she finds it in the nectaries of acacia trees,
evolved expressly for her use,
she finds it in the glands of aphids
that she herds,
finds it in the skin of caterpillars
that she babysits,
finds it in young mealybugs and leafhoppers
she defends. This sweet-tooth seeker
even, like her cousin wasps and bees,
like oriole and hummingbird,
quaffs nectar straight from the flower’s mouth.
Ants are probably the dominant macro-life on Earth. Ants have symbiotic associations with many other lives both fauna and flora. They are such effective fighters that many butterflies use them to defend their offspring, as do mealybugs and leafhoppers. See these interliving relationships in action at
Say when some day you become
the leaf of an aspen tree,
you will shiver, you will quake
to every touching breeze, you
will flatten your stem to
flutter more green, you will learn
it’s all in the wrist, you will
catch wind to catch light.
Light-gathering is the goal of plants; the strategies are many. Aspen’s is to move its leaves continually, and toward this flutter it has vertically flattened its petiole (leaf stem). Light glances leaves all up and down the tree.
UV photo © Bjorn Horslett
Along field edges
where tree shade cools,
buttercup is lively now.
She has chosen monochrome,
anther and filament,
stigma and style
all the same rich yellow,
which bounces glossy off the petals,
in-gathers to the pollen fur. But
all this is for my
banana-seeking monkey eye.
The bee will see the ultra-violet
buttercup, outer petals pink,
center cup a red bulls-eye,
nectar and pollen for sister bee to home on.
Buttercup admits her beauty, but says
through vibrations we can’t see,
“Whatever your intentions,
my hue is not for you.”