A poem a week until the entire book is blogged. See also Collected Poems

Monday, September 25, 2017

French Pink

There are two climbing roses by her gate,
one to each side, with velvet blooms, small,
but heavily scented, suitable for soaps, salves

and potpourri. They blossom out together,
several hundred, perhaps a thousand whorls
French pink, shading to cream, the haunt

of matching shy arachnids. How tall they'd grow
she doesn't know, having twined an arch of willow
whips atop her gate, to bind them to.

In her middle years, her family took this place
and named it for the stony creek, dry
in summer, rolling through between their house

and garden. A storm year came; that garden up
and vanished down a river to the sea,
leaving them three dead plum trees and a rose.

She started fresh, gardening by the house,
planting new beds and trees, then moved the rose,
a monumental task, involving pick and spade,

wheelbarrow, calluses, and a tan. She chose
north, a shaded wall, and while the rose
liked a hidden spring there, for drinking,

it never cared for the paucity of light. It'd
stretch its greeny fingers roofward, up
and over; send roots drilling left and right;

make awkward shoots. Shift it one more time,
she thought. Maybe both sides of a sunny gate
she'd build, with an arch. The spot she had in view

she could muse on from her kitchen window.
Again two days of digging, and with her bowsaw
made one rose two. Would they take another journey?

It seemed they would, though they'd always want water;
She'd have to remember to make the hoses reach.
She wouldn't mind if the roses wouldn't mind.




Monday, September 18, 2017

Knowledge

She knows the weeds will win. Sometimes, at night,
Hearing them grow in her dreams, she'll wake, grasp
Even in her two hands, a phantom thistle, or

Knotweed, errant blackberry, or teasel.
Now not able to turn and sleep, she'll rise, throw
On her robe, and step out into night;
Walking the way the slim moon shows her,
She throws aside her garden gate and listens.

There might be corn and tomatoes chatting,
Having about as much to say as farmed things.
Even a whisper among the kales and chard --

Whatever such things say. Beyond are beds
Ensnarled in dock, barnyardgrass, mallow,
Everlasting hedge bindweed.
Dire straits; but there's no sound there.
She knows they're biding their time,

Watching for her sudden return, sickle
In hand, fire in eye, seed packets in mind.
Level them, they fear she means to, or
Leave roots drying in summer sun.

Well, that's tomorrow. She turns now; steps
Into her lightless house. She'll give this up
Not soon, yet knows how it must end.




Monday, September 11, 2017

A Path

Along the new trail, built by no one I knew, 
acorns had fallen by thousands, more than enough
to leave creatures dazed by too much fortune.

Conkers have tumbled among them, each
experimentally chipped and then rejected
by some set of tiny teeth. Hazel nuts

were better, it seems. Should an adder pass en route
to denning, amid this rich mast, amid 
this late fall of goldened leaves of ash

and beech, I might merely step aside, 
unalarmed as any fattened squirrel. 
Across the pasture, I remember, past

the partly shaded ferns, cowslips, bluebells, 
buttercups of spring and summer, where 
falling water, catkin-patterned, drowned out

the cygnet's cry in an otter's teeth (witnessed 
by a kingfisher, two low-flying larks and a heron),
a willow had leaned to hide that tiny sorrow

and also shade a loafing spotted newt.
The hill behind, where bees sought nectar of a kind
from sunburnt heather, swept up to a copse of oak,

wrapped in a druid's dream of mistletoe and ivy.
There I had paused for dandelion wine.
Perhaps the trail will help some find this place. 

My children, do not forget there is a world.




This was written in response to a report, by the great writer Robert MacFarlane, of the disappearance of certain words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.




Monday, September 4, 2017

Waiting for Rain to Stop

While watching forests comb those wet bellies,
All grey and louring, of the heartless clouds,
I wondered how the heavy earth breathes
Thus more than dampened, more than drowned
In so much rain. The very snails could gasp,
Nudging toward such daylight as they might,
Grudged them by the endless drops, dropping.

Fear for my crops, standing in chill pools
Or bent, prostrated, shambled, lying left and
Right, I feel, yet not enough to go and see.

There are tree branches, if I go, ready to pull
Hair, poke eyes, and shower me to my skin,
Every direction, along each path and bed.

Running streamlets ease a darkening land
All river-bound, discovering the slightest slope,
Inland being anathema to them,
No place like home, their wide and welcoming sea.

There all streams meet, mingle, and play.
Ocean the lowest place, where rain may end in

Stillness some times, or leap about, yet bounded.
There it may stop awhile, then one day mist forth
Over the waves and shores, plains and mountains
Putting forth life and death again, a cycle.




Monday, August 28, 2017

Praying for Rain

Perhaps the seedlings were better off inside,
Really. She's never sure what's best for them,
All down the years trying peat pots, blocks,
Yanking down flats from storage, penciling markers,
Ingratiating herself with baked soils,
Now trying perlite, vermiculite, moss,
Getting out lamps and heaters, rotating flats,

Fighting intruding snails, mice and rats
Or even knotweed and bindweed
Running their tendrils up through brick.

Right now, she wishes she hadn't hurried.
All her helpless babies in cracked clay!
If it doesn't rain tonight, she tells herself,
Never again shall I call April May.




Monday, August 21, 2017

Bent Umbrella

Upon slowly waking, she rouses from a dream
of fear. Was it her life threatened by someone, waving
rusted weaponry, or had she herself sought to destroy

a trusted neighbor or loved parent? Suppressing
a moan, spine filled with fluids overnight,
yes, again, and ankles still in pain, across

the flanks of her beloved she now crawls,
stumbles round the room to find the handle
of her life, or only the door, sliding her feet along.

A floor creaks with dry rot as she steps among
the objects that reshape her: bloomers, slips,
half-slips, girdles, bras, tights, stockings.

She feels, Braille-fingered, for the small room where
all who seek may find that men or women are
only men or women; here they see themselves

before any other's eyes, and by a harsh light.
Her eye looks deeply through her from the glass;
tells her that her sorrows are contemptible. So?

She does not plan to die today, no, nor call in
sick, returning to the now cold sheets, seeking
to resolve that awful dream. Call it what you will,

habit if you like, but she carries herself into
the living room, satisfactory sight, remodeled
somehow, despite poverty: white walls

and ceiling, cleanly textured, fireplace patched,
mantel graced with oil lamps and seemly books:
here she dresses. Outside, darkness, low

clouds, and the rattling of busy downspouts.
She shrugs. Through kitchen to the cold mudroom,
listening to the change in foot-fall of her heels,

from wood to tile, to concrete, she moves on,
pace quickening. No entropy now stops her.
Gathering her bent umbrella and stained coat,

she opens a door. She walks out to the world.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today and Tomorrow

Polyhymnia walks between beds
critical of eye, noting the way blades
of corn have curled upon themselves,

rattling in hardly any breeze at all.
They'd like to make believe it's Autumn now,
would they? Playing at getting past the part

where seed heads form, waving silky hair
but then departing, leaving leaves bereft
of any purpose but to leave this world --

except, of course, they don't: that is the gift
of mulch. She brings a hose and couples to
its end a yellow whirligig, made to sing

the holy song of water to those leaves.
Today, green fulness. Tomorrow, living grain.




French Pink

There are two climbing roses by her gate, one to each side, with velvet blooms, small, but heavily scented, suitable for soaps, salves and ...