A white seal sun bathes
on salt water
like a huge pool toy.
Beneath her whiskers
she wears a doggy smile
as if relishing both illusion
and the wave-smooth rock
she rests upon,
her flippers poised to clap.
This pretty harbor seal explores humor in Monterey Bay, California. Seals do play, and I suspect that humor is a trait not restricted to primates.
A great white-aproned flower opens true gold
to its pollination partner, the bee homing in.
Each knows exactly what to do, and how.
These two have practiced almost forever--
nectar for the hive, pollen fulfilled.
A twinge of envy: what might it be like,
knowing precisely what to do,
in what season, how? Or even
to be sure where to land from our flight
Out of mist
manifest four pelicans
(from the sound)
what must be surf
What power these huge birds have, even half visible. How goosebumped with time their sensory impact.
Time is opening--
a tree trunk here
unfolds its years and lets
its seasons tell.
Time splits into
gray layers of veneer,
each year’s growth
packed into rings
now pages detached,
each a year of wind
and rain and gravity.
Pages arch up into peaks
where the tree leaned
upon the hillside
and rallied grain
against the pull
that had all time to win.
A book, a scroll, both implicit in the delaminating layers of fallen wood. Like us, like every body of earth, telling time.
A damselfly perches
on the cobra hood
of a plant whose veins
create a window net
of red and green:
A blue damsel rests
upon a pitcher plant.
flit into the hood
and fall,struggle briefly
in the pool:
The damsel hunts with eyes,
the cobra plant with scent.
Everybody eats. The plant is Darlingtonia, also known as cobra lily or cobra plant.
A dozen migrant red knots take a break
from probing beach flats with sensitive beaks.
Each stands on a single leg,
the feat mirrored in water,
a touring troupe of avian acrobats
with one simple trick that grins
this morning audience.
But red knots are superb performers
of wing-work beyond agility
that merits our ovation: they fly from Arctic tundra
to Tierra del Fuego , there and back again.
I can’t see that circle, but it amplifies.
The casual tuck of one leg up into feathers,
the suave balance with lidded eyes,
will always greet my lips with smiles.
The red knot, like many who mate in the north, is gray much of the year. Like many shorebirds, they are currently in danger of extinction—widely hunted in South America, beach depletion in North America, etc.
If the maple’s bark did not read black
its form would be lost in the green drench
of leaves backlit by the forest gap
where a redwood fell. The maple’s trunk
and branches stop the light
that leaves pass like emeralds.
Each branch rides ragged in its silhouette,
draped with old man lichen beards.
Mosses and more lichens
ride the bark as well, more
flavors of green drunk from
this new sun-drench--this silhouette
of stretch, of lift and branch
bending towards, this tree shape of life
seeking, finding, spending radiance.
It’s not so much the redwoods, although they center it, it’s the quality of light the coastal forest grows.
A perfect red berry
on a short green stem
juts from the green-barked twig
of a small tree beneath the shade
of giant redwood trees.
Although the berry is not aware,
it exists in a cage.
A thin green vine
trisects its climbing tip
just below the berry.
Now the red fruit is
enclosed in an elegant net
of thin green bars, two tendrils
above and one below.
Nowhere do the tendrils
touch the perfect berry,
or the berry has shrunk
from tendril touch. Or
is the berry unaware?
Ripe, it is ready for bird’s beak
or gravity’s pull. A cage of
three thin bars will not
block this fruition.
The rich moist coastal forest will all its moisture does not seem the likely place for photosynthesizing bark, yet this small understory tree in shade maximizes light just this way, as does the vine using the tree to climb. The berry’s cage is an entire mystery, which enchants me.
A furred caterpillar
is quick to rise to its defense,
lifts its head and opens jaws made
for biting leaves, not predators.
It lives in hope that warning orange
and hostile stance
will dissuade the hungry
beak or jaws.
This silly code: I find that I
respect the hardwired instincts
of this fuzzy little warrior.
I suspect that some admirable behavior we regard as choice-based is in fact simply happens, without deliberation. For more on biomimicry, look here:
A small wasp rests a moment
on a yellow hawkweed bloom.
Imagine being pure as these two,
still caught in the threads of our lives.
I can’t either, but I do love
the exactness of wasp—her clear wings,
her round eye, abdomen color bands,
as I so love the zigzag petal ends
of hawkweed, the corolla of golden anthers
sheltering the stigma, secret nectaries
sweet for the wasp’s tongue.
I think once I may have been so
for an instant or an hour.
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