A poem a week until the entire book is blogged.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How She Knows She Is Not Useless Yet

How she knows she is not useless yet:
Old cornstalks must be shattered right
Where they stood green, to feed worms

She knows are waiting in darkness.
Her hens wait too, for water, for feed,
Especially for deadnettles, nipplewort,

Kale and comfrey. Some hummingbirds
Now arriving check the lilac for their
Own nectar bottle that hung there
While last spring, summer and fall
Slipped past. There are wasp queens

She finds sleeping in her woodpile;
Her heart skips a beat as she sees
Each one, for she fears them, yet

Interests herself in their rest and
Safety, for the good they do her garden.

Now she mucks out her barn, for
Of her things she values rich mulch, almost
To distraction, most. But slowly;

Under beams and eaves hang cobwebs,
Sacs of eggs suspended in each, waiting
End of winter, not to be disturbed.
Lest she forget to serve all equitably,
Every bucket of soiled barn water
She carries to her trees to tip out: 
Something to stave off drought.

Yes, she's earned the right, she thinks,
Even in this so solitary place,
To call herself an asset to her friends.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spring Springs

Spring springs upon her unawares;
Perhaps she thought snow would drift
Right up to her window, as it should
In February, as in her memory
No such month escaped some white.
Going forth in a sleeveless shift

She pockets up seeds for flats,
Pulls out dank bins of soil,
Reaches for small pots, sets hope
In light. Such April ploys are
Not to be counted on, she knows --
Guessing random frosts
Still may spring upon her unawares. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

What Was Hers But Is Not Hers Just Now

What was hers, but is not hers just now,
Having suffered a rising tide of voles
And other rodents (she does not doubt), is
The potting shed/solarium, a domain in

Which she'd reigned, she thought, for decades.
All of it, she'd built herself. Gathering
Slats of rough hewn barn wood, windows,

Heaps of antique bricks, a long green bench,
Ever more pots and flats, bins and trowels,
Royally she'd treated herself to her heaven,
Seedlings doing as she'd have them do.

But then: disaster. Peas and beans tucked
Under skeins of soil vanished by ones and
Threes -- whole flats of corn plowed up.

Is there nothing to be done, she wonders,
Short of slaughter by nefarious means?

Not the first option. She casts about among
Old tosswares in corners and on shelves.
This rolled-up screening might do. Shears in

Hand, she measures as one measures cloth,
Ever minding the selvage, to create caps
Rodents might decline to chew.
Slipping these into place, adding to each

Just one stone per corner, using
Up the Buddha cairns she'd made
Stacked here and there round the room.
The precept honored, she waters all,

Not neglecting to sprinkle stones.  
Outcomes must be as they must be.
We find true that find we do not reign. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

It Begins With Mare's Tails

It begins with mare's tails: wisps of ice
That spread, ghostly fingers from

Beyond the southwestern horizon; her 
Ears feel the chill as she is planting bulbs.
"Go inside," her chapped hands urge her,
"Inside, your steaming kettle waits."
"Not yet," she replies. In her mind's eye
She watches thousands of daffodils bloom

Where grass grew. She must plant hundreds
If her dream will breathe. Altocumulus,
Those clouds like schools of fish, arrive.
Her hands hurt her now; cold clay

Milks moisture from gapped skin.
As she bends, shovel in one hand, 
Round brown balls of life in the other,
Each destined for a hole along her fence,
She senses wind lifting skirts of

The cottonwoods and willows. Raindrops
Are arriving now, slanting through trees,
Investing her sleeves and hair with wet.
Leaving off at last, she, crutching on her
Shovel, pivots toward tea, book and fire.

Monday, April 23, 2018

That Time When There Is Yet Nothing

That time when there is yet nothing,
Her skills being at rest, synchronized
And sympathetic with soil's sleep --
Timid buds of lilac or jonquil still

Tucked within themselves -- she wonders
If she's even a subsistence woman, is
Mistaken in that as so much else, as when
Even deep snow cannot efface what

Winter erases when it is nearest spring.
Her hands stretch to packaged seeds;
Enter into bargains with their quietude.
Now? Now? Now? Now? she asks them,

Though she knows they will not move.
Here by a cold window she spreads
Envelopes on her table: peas, beets.
Radishes will be first, nearest the house.
Even now she smells them, lifted, bitten.

Is there nothing that can be done?
She asks for the hundredth time.

You'd think the mud would dry a little,
Evenings come later, mornings earlier,
The birds nest and sing, daisies open!

No. Tools rest in their ranks, sharpened,
Oiled. Clouds pass, low, lightless, sulking.
The arbor's done, fences, orchard, 
Heaps heaped. All she needs today
Is that this blank month turn a little
Nearer sun, before her plot of earth
Grazes on forgetfulness too soon.

Monday, April 16, 2018


This time of year that room is not much visited.
Its herringbone-patterned floor of worn bricks
tilts here and there where rodents have made inroads.

Homemade flats lie heaped in corners; stacks of cells
lean sleepily together; insulation dangles;
tools hang, festooned with webs and dust. Sometimes

when the door has been set ajar, a towhee wanders in,
becomes confused at light from so many windows,
beats itself silly, then rests, is eventually found

and shown the way out. There's not much
an old lady can do but wait, watching for
earlier suns to rise, for petrichor,*

for that sudden dislocation brought on
by stepping into sunshine by a southern wall.
Then, after one jonquil blooms by way of

affirmation, she'll step in, rearrange things,
dust her work bench and stool, bring seeds,
open the soil bin, grab a pot, begin.

*The odor of dry earth moistened by rain.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Weather Is a Thing, Now

Weather is a thing, now, she tells herself,
Every day surprising -- week, month
And season. When, whether and what
To plant, or how to schedule visits with
Her friends or family, across a pass or
Even in lowlands. Storm clouds will
Roll in, blizzards, fire, a tornado. She

Is sure there's easy weather somewhere
Such times as freezing fog, wind, or

A heatwave shuts her in. She'll admit

There are good days for her yet
Here beneath her patient apple trees.
If weather is a thing, so is simplicity.
Never waste a calm day, she says:
Go see trilliums, bespeak beargrass,

Nod to daisies, curtsy to wise willows.
On such days, forget falling trees and hills,
Water rising. Love life while you can.

How She Knows She Is Not Useless Yet

How she knows she is not useless yet: Old cornstalks must be shattered right Where they stood green, to feed worms She knows are w...