Schumacher College, Devon, England
chitter and dither and chirp
seems much the same, but who is that
gleaning bugs off the roof tiles?
It wags its tail flick-flick, flick-flick,
small and black and white.
The bird book introduces
Pied Wagtail, so I walk outside again
and introduce myself.
trees in bloom, trees blushed light green, house sparrows
carrying grass to weave their nests.
still with greening buds
these ancient English oaks claw sky in all directions.
Gnarled and twisted branches grow thoughtless gardens
of lichen and of moss, and bark all algae green
is ruts and furrows carved by the task
and joy of capturing the sun.
its leaves just spilling from the bud,
five leaflets on each dangle down
before the moment to unfold.
The trunk is wide and muscular,
so large it takes time to walk around,
branches spread a circle out as wide as time.
The grass beneath is daisy-sprinkled white.
Stonechats sing from branches low,
and high above a song from singers I don't know.
4.12.99 Devon, England
In the old gardens
I sit beneath an enormous apple tree.
The tree embraces a round of a hundred feet.
Its trunk is short and thick,
roots buttress the weight and dive.
Remove all leaves.
The green you see is algae on the bark,
and lichen bits. The tree is Spring in bloom.
All is white, save the steady gold of bumblebees.
Above, clouds swim fast; here, a breeze
pulls petals from the blossoms,
a steady warm enchanted snow,
which soon be-petals me.
4.13.99 Devon, England
This rainbow spans half the sky.
It arches high above its center
where the sun will fall into the sea.
I understand none of this, but
as I look up, the cloudless blue
rains into my face,
and I am blessed twice in mystery.
Took a lovely long walk through fields and
woods yesterday. The wooded bottomlands near the River Dart
are filled right now with blooming ransoms and wood anemone.
"Ransoms" are a kind of wild garlic that forms large
colonies of what look at first like lilies. They carry a stalk
with a double white star on top, and a pair of broad lily
leaves. The wood anemone is the same as we have in the American
East and Midwest. It blushes pink as petals emerge from the
bud, but when it opens fully into sun, it's white, except
for fine gold pollen in the center.
4.14.99 Devon, England
Outside the Garden
Here, traveler, is a strange universe
of pure white stars,
and they are all twinned
trumpets pushing out fragrance that pulls
us who wander green interstellar spaces
into their throated fires.
In this Ransom Galaxy,
Against dark columns, I am enormous,
for I can reach down through space and pluck
a double white star, and pop it in my mouth
My whole cosmos spirals into Garlic
that forces wide the buds of taste
and leaps them into flowers burning white--
pure sharp nebulae of heat swirling
in my enormous tongue.
I've been chewing ransom flowers in their
a fine garlic flavor that leaves sharp pepper in my mouth.
It is such a miracle to eat this directly from the earth,
without the garden's intercession.
4.15.99 Devon, England
The little robin perches on a bush
and sings at me,
and I am deeply pleased
to clearly see this bird.
His beak and mine are inches close.
Why does he dare so near?
And then I see.
in the bottom of the bush,
another robin sits their nest.
He defends the eggs from me.
And so I leave.
The American robin was named after the English
robin, which is nothing like the American robin. The English
robin is small and perky, goldfinch sized, and does not feed
on lawns. It perches in shrubs and trees, and gleans its food
there. Both male and female sport a bright orange bib, and
4.16.99 Devon, England
It is how the blackbird sings
as the sun falls down.
It is how his throat is liquid green
as buds emerge..
It is how he sings the sun into
loving the other side.
It is how the green is blackbird
the blackbird green.
It is how his throat swells mine
How this has always been, here,
in Spring, when the sun falls down.
The dawn chorus of birdsong is so lovely that
I forget to celebrate the gentler beauty of the twilight song.
The English blackbird is a cousin of our American Robin which
also has a fine evening song. The male is solid black with
a bright yellow beak.
4.19.99 Cornwall, Britain
A garden is a journey through Time's mystery.
Each seed contains a universe of wild
ready to emerge.
Each seed clasps secrets to its germ,
holds pattern, root and leaf, waiting
water and warm sun.
Each seed we plant contains the universal history,.
Wildness ready to break forth,
drive down root and open green,
But each windchild seed we do not plant
is our Mother
healing green a patch of skin scraped bare,
Witness to how life
again and again scrambles up Time's tree.
I'm thinking today of seeds and gardens, and
what amazing mysteries each seed contains.
4.20.99 Cornwall, Britain
In Spring old women everywhere renew
their bargains with the soil
that we call gardens,
the old wise women who
for all these centuries
have woven nets of brush and string,
of rags and vine,
to catch the tender fruits of Earth,
They move with slow economy,
bend from the waist to plant a seed
or pluck a greening weed,
and mutter softly as they rise.
The question is:
Would we know Spring without them?
4.21.99 Cornwall, Britain
All Our Hungry Mouths
The rook flies quickly from the trees
in its beak a large white egg,
something wonderful to eat,
as every egg is wonder-filled.
If a bird can smile with its wings,
this rook smiles.
The rook smiles off into another tree
perhaps to feed its own
hungry wide-mouthed nestlings,
recent from the egg.
It is hard to accept sometimes
that we earthlings love to eat each other,
and that we enjoy it while we do,
our own hungry mouths wide open,
even when it's eggs that we must eat.
A rook is a large black bird of Britain, close
cousin to the crow, but with a prettier voice and a large
gray beak. Rooks, like crows and jays, are both predators
and scavengers, and are vigorously chased by smaller birds
during nesting season. Rooks live in colonies known as "rookeries."