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John Caddy
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John Caddy's
Morning Earth Poems,
April 2006



Blizzard blew itself a snow cone,
coated a bare stem
with flat wind and snow
teetered at the edge of slush.
The cone is the flavor of white wind,
the lick of goose-bumped memories.
Shadow-cone lies black across a sweep
of fresh confection that sparks in full sunlight.

Horizontal wind and snow create a special kind of chef whose
fresh-from-the-sky delicacies are fit for the eyes of dreaming minds.


While pond ice darkens toward ice-out,
water along the shoreline is astir.
A froth of bubbles here and there,
duckweed greening, shadowstaffs
of willow brush, and one fine water mystery.
Bits of ice float everywhere, and around them
lenses drawn with lines that you can see
only sideways, with an angled eye.
But there they are. Water is ever strange.
I speculate that I am seeing
little pools of temperature that connect
each to each with scalloped lines
that are not really there. But there they are.

Mystery is always upon us. We are water in a skin. Our brains are puddles organized. If we are oddities, and we surely are, we should expect water to give up all its secrets slowly if at all.

As Earth strolls its long path around Sol,
I walk among wan relicts of the summer gone.
Here is complexity of striving, the husks
of annual vines still lifted on shrubs
they climbed toward blessed light.
Long tendrils curl and clamber still, caught
in time like photos old in sepia.
Archimedes delighted in these spring-wound
coils as he walked the hills of Sicily.
When tendrils were still green,
he would stretch out the spring
and watch its coils return. He drew them
in his mind. But these springs of summer
here, today, are fragile, brisk with age.
Here, today in tall light, a new Spring, where
green tips of vines spear out of soil and plan to strive.
All this striving for height ensures vine seed dispersal as well as growth through photosynthesis. The Greek scientist/ mathematician/engineer Archimedes lived some centuries before Christ in Syracuse, Sicily, where among many other achievements, he invented the water-screw to drain mines and the bilges of ships.  

A raindrop grows upon a snowdrop
flower just ready to unroll petals,
as single lenses of rain coalesce into
a hemisphere that hangs ready
to drink one slip more of rain
before it drops to earth,
collects in flight the green
of snowdrop stem, russet
of oak leaves, colors
billow up the surface of
the clear embracing sphere.
Spring and rain, life-givers. Raindrops play just so with gravity before giving in. I wonder if snowdrops are bemused to find themselves opening to rain instead of snow. Last week the sky was a full foot above them.

Such contrast, this tender skin of green
pierced and armored with
abundant deep red spines.
Blackberry canes are the palo verde
of the North, greened up for spring
with chloroplasts awake within the bark,
photosynthesizing their own head start.
Desert trees drop their leaves
when dry, but green their skins for life. Here,
blackberry spreads roots with sun upon its skin
before shrub or tree has unrolled one leaf.
Soon blackberry canes will arch to soil,
and at the growing tips take root. Be wary,
two-legs, someday sweet-fruit brambles
will swallow up your concrete world.
Small wonder there are so many brambles of blackberry compared to cousins raspberries and dewberries. Blackberry also has the amazing ability to produce a seed from an unfertilized flower, so blackberry thickets are often clones.
Time for the horror film?


White oak acorn pushed down
a root last fall,
now it rides that root
toward light,
cracks wide its shell
and calls the cotyledons
out of sleep. They yawn
already green, first meal of sun
consumed, and wide will spread
their fat first leaves,
loosing all to light.
Just beneath the leaves, much is busy with the thawing of the soil. White oak acorns germinate a root in fall, then wait out winter before continuing. Red oak acorns are cracking open now, those that have survived the squirrels and the turkeys.

Hepatica leaps up furred from soil,
stems and bracts hairy as mammals.
Hair provides a cozy micro-clime
warmer than a quarter inch away.
Beauty conceives all the help it needs.

There is something about wildflower buds that enchants me even more than the flowering. Hope springs eternal.



As sun lifts above top branches
to reflect trees in the mirror-pond
a wild goose plunges its head,
unsettles water just enough
that birch and elm trunks zigzag
ripples in a painterly morning dance.
Giant Canada geese are renewing their bonds before mating by bowing each to each. A fine ceremony to emulate.


Awakened by cranes,
pulled from bed at dawn
by loud voices older than ramshorns,
I watch three sandhills
leap into air, their commotion
of trumpets
peals through all sky as they
wing north over oaks.
No being of woodland or marsh
sleeps now, all awake, all drawn
wide in the sound wake of cranes.
When the cranes pass beyond hearing, chorus frogs and wood frogs pick up their submersed songs, and a single early spring peeper punctuates the massed choir with slivers of light.


Phoebe sang up the sun
by repeating his name, then
toiled the cool morning
fetching beakfuls of mud and moss
to grow the new nest.
Now it is first-day warm,
insects hover the pond. Over
and again, from his post at pond edge,
phoebe darts out to take a fly and zips back
so quick you wouldn’t think he’d left.
There! He hawks a fly right off the water,
and is back on perch before
the ripples of his beak can spread.

Sometimes the magic insists on plunking itself right in front of you


Bloodroot wears a cap
when it  springs up from earth,
a leaf lobe to protect
from rain splats while
perfection prepares within
its rolled leaf: eight pure petals white,
twenty-four anthers pollen gold
and a pale-butter style waiting.
Overnight the blossom doffs cap
and looks wide upon earth,
signals little wasps to come
imbibe all she has prepared.


Ironwood leaves are born conjoined,
their mirrored vein trees pale
cameos carved in green jade
tooth-edged in red.
They join at the tip like the cardinal pair
who out the window, just tiptouch beaks
as I daydream, look for words
and watch them arrive.
This touching of tips, bird bill or leaf ,
charms our need to complete,
discover the twin and curve
toward to join at the lips.

The male cardinal feeds in the platform. His subtle mate arrives, sits above him. He flies up to her, and they greet. In their bonding they give me, I hope, a poem worthy of ironwood leaves.


The flower of the willow could pass
for caterpillar, the way
bright tufts of fur arrange in rows
the golden pollen that will ride
spring breeze lightly as will
in summer fly the bright-winged
fruits of caterpillar after
climbing from the chrysalis.

It’s not convergence, nothing like. But it is wonderfully strange how often plant and animal meld in metaphor.



Bud and flower both, striped squill
in daylight is improbable
as eggshell porcelain
drawn until a candle flame will
ripen and complete its glow.
Puschkina is one of those incredible small bulbs that are pretty enough at a distance,  but face to face will amaze and enchant.


Whitethroated sparrows
swing through now, eyes
and gold lores  bright
with season, bib clean, pink feet
kicking up seeds. Tomorrow
they drift north, head for
boreal nesting grounds, where
their fine piping will voice the leaves
of spruce and pines.
The whitethroat is the elf-bird that enchants the summer north woods. Their song is the spell. The lore is the skin above the eye, toward the beak


Rue anemone sprinkles woodlands now, ephemeral
soon to vanish until next wheel around the sun.
Buds unfold against veined leaves
as children suddenly unfold into year sixteen.
Neither knows their loveliness, their brevity,
nor that they are perennial.

This continuation and replay is the root of life and
the burgeoning of rue.


Between bark and tree, beetle eggs
hatch out in a row. Grubs eat
small burrows, all at first
in one direction, but as they mature,
and their tunnels swell,
their trails diverge like a fan’s
elegant opening in a geisha’s moving hand.
In Japan and China, folding fans have been used in dance for many centuries. The fan shape is fundamental in biology and physics--lives of all sorts disperse and diverge, streams spill alluvial fans at canyon mouths.


Met an elf near my back door
growing on a fallen log.
No frond finger long, a fern
just taller than the moss,
intricate and finely green.
A family of six elf ferns grow
on the same mossed log,
one born to the frond this spring.

I am swept into my earliest earth,
miniature forests, cheek
upon mosses, springy
and milk house cool. One time
a millipede flowed by
just past my nose,
little orange legs wending
through spore stalks.
The fragrance of fern and moist moss,
an elder knowledge of our furred kind.

This elfin fern has the unlovely name of green spleenwort. Yet its Lilliputian size and perfection of detail combine to charm this lumbering and storied mammal who will ever after call it elf fern. Notice the acorn.


I look beneath paired ginger leaves
and find its wild flower
which should only exist
in the ocean abyss, tentacled
and furred, red orifice wide
to engulf unlucky prey.
But it lives here in the garden,
and I am relieved this wild flower
with tentacles three
is shy beneath paired leaves

In truth, wild ginger flower has a bizarre charm, as long as it is small and we are large, but one can only applaud its willingness to hide.



Warmth. Sun. Spring.
We emerge.
A merrybells flower
prepares to drop open and ring to sun,
while a small bright-winged fly
thoroughly thawed,
basks on the flower bud’s green.
No life can resist the combination of tall sun  and long days. Emergence is universal now.












Copyright © 2004 John Caddy