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John Caddy
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John Caddy's
Morning Earth Poems
February 2002



As darkness wanes
the daylight waxes, falls into
our three eyes longer,
falls deeper into all of us who winter
under northern skies.

As daylight waxes
and darkness wanes,
this longer light that enjoys
all three eyes wakes in us
the need to be reborn,

So His Iridescent Glory fans
and tilts his gold-tipped tail,
drops both wings to manifest
primaries pearl and black,
swells every feather into green and gold,
inflates his crimson wattle
and winds his circling strut
around the other tom who pretends
he's somewhere else but keeps
his tail depressed, his feathers flat.

Harbingers of spring are daily evident now, even as it finally gets cold. What saves our hope is longer light. In turkeys, as in many of us, hope is renewed in mating and its preludes of testosterone.



Paths across the pond pressed in shallow snow,
curving turkey paths and deer,
rabbit flights and squirrel leaps
each compressing snow.
Light filters least through hardened white
so dark paths of surface life
are shadows on the sky to lives below.


Mysteries surround us. Most we cannot know. Let imagination stretch your points of view.



This morning, the late moon billows east,
but her bright crescent sails west
with an entourage of stars. Briefly
she will falter into bright
unborrowed, fade
against the fire of life,
but sail on into night
on the other side of fire
like very hope.



Sleeping in the wind on a February night,
sleeping while the air grows hard, sleeping
in the wind that wakes the trees and
makes of leafless branches
vocal chords that roar of dark, of cold,
and hackles raise on sleepers curled in hollow trees and nestled into dry-leaved dens below,
sleeping in the wind that unhooks feather barbs
and strips heat from little trip-heart birds
clutching twigs that vibrate in night's song.



The woods are alive with the escapades
of old newly fallen leaves, surprised
to cartwheel over frozen ponds, that
bellied, brown and dry catch wind and fly
as they did last night when wind
from stubborn oak trees plucked them free.
Now they scurry over snow as wind's
own antic animations—stiff pointy legs
below humped backs, they glide, they slide,
they leap and roll, they fly
until they catch on twigs or duff that rise
from thinning snow, where they will stay
until warm wet days let leaf and snow
slump into patient soil.



I push into wind and bright
and through wind's roar
hear song, small birds
in leafless trees in melody
bright as the fire of reborn sun.
On the tip of every twig of every branch
that speaks today for wind,
a bud of leaf or flower.


I am always surprised to hear the changes in bird voices that come with longer sun. I am equally delighted to discover how that sound sharpens my eyes.



He's followed her fragrance cross country
from his den, and moans beneath her tree.
When she climbs down, she screams and bites
to see if he is fit, or she can stand his smell.
They fight through brambles, roll in snow
screaming loudly through February night.
If she wins, she chases him away.
If he equals her, he can climb the tree and stay
and pluck thorns from her fur,
and mate again, again all day.
In morning's light she bites and chases him away,
crawls back to rest until spring hunger
and kits inside pull her from the nest.

Screams in the night. Female raccoons bite prospective mates before any other touch. Shades of junior high.



All winds on earth
contain the caw of crow,
and all eyes the feathers black.
First the caw and then the crow
spread-fingered on swift air.
There is nowhere in the wind
that you can go
and not hear riding on it
caws of crows

whose minds are bright
as beads are bright as eyes
that watch the earth entire
and speak of it on bouncing
branches in crow-moots
every morning of the world

and take off into wind
and sail on down,
or beat against it, contrary crows
who are the caws
that ride the wind
wherever eyes can go.



Precisely spaced upon the glass
of the aquarium, a grid of eggs,
each placed just so by
a little catfish who in darkness
pressed her vent against
hard transparency and squeezed
out one egg glued tight, until
row after row she made precise geometry.
The male followed her through the night
egg by egg, to spill his milt
to quicken them, row by just so row.

Darwin can't explain.
Perhaps, eons before Pythagoras' soul
became a Greek and dreamt of transmigration,
incarnate in a little fish was Euclid's soul
dreaming up geometry with eggs.


Earth's mysteries are always with us. I must learn to let them sweep through me and be awed, without, as John Keats said, this "irritable searching after fact or reason.


Small February rain
erases little humps of snow,
turns pond snow into slush.
On every surface raindrops
bead and glow even in this gray.
How sudden bright this red squirrel's tail
with its pearled diadem of light.


Qualities of light are subtle and amazing. I am water (70%) observing the beauty and subtlety of rainwater. Consciousness is odd fun at times.



From the north
wind drives flat with snow,
plasters white the treetrunks.
Woodpeckers hold tight,
belly to bark.
Chickadees in branchy brush
puff up to down
and wipe their bills repeatedly
as wind carves curves
in broken crystals.



Full sun after snow.
Icicles grow and gleam on eaves,
constant drip
almost too quick to see
drops tremulously weep
and burrow holes in snow.
Beguiled before the door,
the child I was and will be
reaches up and frees
a bumpy lance of sunny ice,
melts the tip against his tongue.



Explosions of pheasants through
wind-driven snow, wings clap air
in all directions but down,
two roosters up and sailing,
there five hens burst up and out.
The ring-neck's brain knows
horizontal snow from the Black Sea
steppes east of Colchis
where Jason sought the fleece,
all the way east to blizzards in Manchuria,
knows food vanishes in wind turned white
as winter grips the belly tight.


The pheasant's Latin name is Phasianus colchicus, after that fabled place that recalls Jason and Medea. Pheasants were carried to Europe from there, all the golden fleece I need for my mid-western eye. What is not connected?



Cardinals have sung all morning,
and now, at noon, two males pursue
a single female who flees them both.
Now the chase moves into red osier,
crimson feathers on burgundy bark,
blood rising as three play at spring.



A great hawk sweeps gray sky
above the tallest oaks, tilts and turns
his hunting circle, soars, looks below
until a movement on the ground
is pinned within the circle of his eye.
Folds his wings and falls with talons wide.Once plants seize it from the sun, energy transfers from life to life. Life materials transfer too. These unending transfers can be regarded as continuous tragedies, evidence of the essential cruelty of earth. This is a shallow choice. Or you can regard these transfers as the essential shared sacrament of life.



As sunrise breaks the trees
it burns the russet of the pheasant's breast,
and brightens his white ring,
It shares fire with
the tips of squirrel hairs, turns them bronze,
and how it leaps the blues of jay.

As sunrise breaks the trees
it catches every being
and burns us ever beautiful.


There is no thing ordinary except, sometimes, our eyes. Carry them wide.

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