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John Caddy
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John Caddy's
Morning Earth Poems
May 2003



Right past the glass
two redwings whirl
so fast the air spins black.
Bright epaulets
the very air.


Redwinged blackbirds fight only for a few seconds, but that moment is a whirlwind that enacts the history of spring. They do not hurt each other. One leaves, and that's that. Fights at the feeder, though, are rare. What is amusing is that the females have not yet arrived--they migrate a full month behind the males. Yet the males act it out, act it out.



How welcome the greens
in a soaking spring rain,
the greens of leaves unfolding
leap so from gray.
Willow has shot from yellow to green,
ironwood dances a haze.
Maple's bright pointed miniatures
bounce on their twigs,
while oaks prove the rule,
orangey buds ungreened,
but oh, its eye-strong lichens.
Butternut pushes out bud tufts
already turning light sweet.


Photosynthesis returns to the North, and eyes welcome the greening in the blessing of rain.



Feeder bare.
Grumpy crow
with cuffing wings
and heavy beak
chases the black squirrel,
flies just above his running fur
until he leaps up bark. In the green stillness after rain, this aggression of black feathers on black fur was shocking, but lovely in its way. Such density of color lent by overcast and just-green grass.


Just enough mist
to magic the ponds,
just enough to float
treetops on white,
just enough mist
to glow the east gold,
perfection of mist for
the pheasant to trot
from thicket to light
and challenge sunrise.


What a pleasure to wake into just enough mist to alter the earth toward mystery. A half hour from sun up, mist will lift into vapor again, phase change without end.


As sun burns round the horizon,
oriole beaks force the orange
I halved into suns yesterday.


Fire everywhere. Orioles are tired and hungry from migration, but already they sing.


A bluejay carries string.
to a sapling's branches.
Two aunties fuss about her, loud.

Red squirrel dangles
from the beak of crow.
Oh no, my friends.

As he emerges from the dark
my cat has copper eyes.



Bluster wind and rain for days,
Everywhere pools.
In the yard, Canada geese swim
and arch heads under to nip
lawngrass tender green.
Wind-plastered maple seeds
and young leaves everywhere.
Wet-black bark of branch and trunk
lichen spackled, black
intense against leafgreen.

Sundown, west sky clear,
light-splash counters blue-dark clouds
through all the tops of leafing trees.


Sunlight saves us in so many ways. Trees yearn to sky for it; leaves magically extrude from wood; flowers open after sequestering their pollen from the rain for days.



From the last turning

Four young rabbits, fur
in tufts from rain, play
Leapfrog and Catch Me!
through the soaked morning.

When one stops to nibble shoots
his sister bowls him down
and the game goes on.


Young beings play eternally. That's their job. Parents watch in joy and fear; that's theirs. Elders watch and feel their muscles yearn.



That root shape--
spiral, vortex,
helix, coil
is busy again in ferns,
royal, lady, ostrich,
Now fiddleheads uncoil,
and as they clamber air,
each tight frond bud uncurls,
until spirals are spring memories,
but zoom in—there--
spirals humming in each chloroplast,
busy making food of light.


Ah, the slow delights of watching ferns unroll themselves to light and air to sway.


As Earth sinks into twilight
cooling air vibrates with
the long rolling trill of frogs,
the twilit coo of dove broken by
wolf whistle cardinals,
a few notes from grosbeaks, orioles,
a distant happy child's yell, but
under all and before,
the long rolling trill of frogs,
swelling and subsiding as
the ebb and swell of tides
we almost recognize.


The frogs are reveling in five new inches of rain. Such music this, that speaks of yearning and of time.



She hunts by eye.
She hunts by ear.
She hunts with feathers cupped in disk.
She hunts with swivel neck
that spins her eyes a circle round.
she hunts with soundless wings.
She hunts the delvers rattling grasses,
hunts the leapers of the air,
hunts the crow roost, for
she is spirit fierce for
fledglings in the nest, for she is
voices fey in dark of hunt,
for she seeps no milk but
carries meat to black hooked beaks
of hungry beating feathers in the nest.


Barred owls hoot, and barred owls sing in the center of the night, long arched cries evocative of horse-whinnies.



From its flounder in dry leaves,
I pick it up by one stick leg.
I hold a yellowthroat,
cradle it heartbeat warm,
black-bead eyes bright within
the robber mask above
the sun-drenched throat.
Upright now on my palm,
the warbler flutter-tries rich
olive wings and flies.


A lovely intimacy, and a happy ending to a mystery. The warblers are all magical birds; to be close to one is a sensual gift.



Wild flowers.
How they do up Spring.
How they do lift into such
Shapes as seize a heart,
Open such lures as have their way with
Flyers and with breeze:

Bloodroot's stars, careless
Mistresses of form, each petal
Curve perfection;
Hepatica's cup first up;
Coltsfoot's thousand sunrays before leaves;
Rue anemone's saucer pink with
Pollen dancing center gold;
Virginia Bluebells sounding; pendant
Golden Merrybells with sharp soft points;
Trillium grandiflorum proves a trinity:
Three leaves, three petals,
Three eventual seeds.

These natives of my patch of land, constant as daylight, do have their way with me in spring.



This is the green with

   a thousand new names,  

This is the green after

   blessings of rain,  

This is the green

   against bark wet black,  

This is the green of

  the beetle that jewels your hand,  

This is the verdure of

   lichens old as the oaks,  

These are the greens linked

   by spidersilk gleams,  

This green is the foliate face

  that laughs out of time,  

This is the burnished

  green heron's back  
  as it shadows a moment the pond  
  and emerald mallards,  

These are the greens

  breathing here now  
  in west light falling toward down.  



This time of leafing is the green epiphany. These greens of rebirth in late afternoon light are right now wondrous, and so sensual. The Green Man is irrepressible.



Counting down to June,
pagoda dogwood is in flower,
each blossom tier a white cloud
ranked like cumulus on late summer days
when these rich blooms on this small tree
will have become nests of berries
blue with wine-red stems, each
the willing prey of birds
fattening toward cold.


In this season all the flowering plants work their magic on us, we two legs and the four legged who've learned that flowers lead to berries equals tasty food. What the plants are really up to, of course, is training animals to disperse and plant their seed, the true result of flowering. The drive to reproduce is the source of as much plant behavior as it is that of animals.



Maple seeds now whirligig air,
spin down hope of birth and growth,
Twirl and swirl the spiral air
that takes them shadow-safe
so they may eat the sun, and green.


Only yesterday, it seems, the maples bloomed, and here they are planting trees already. The point of the 'vanes' the seeds use to catch air is dispersal, enough to land beyond the parental shadow.



Listen and smile tonight
to toadsong and treefrog song:

Many singers are done:
tadpoles of woodfrog and peeper,
grassfrog and chorus frog
already wriggle the ponds.
But the sweetest choir is now:
two high sustained many–voiced trills
all evening, all night, all a rainy day.

Toad is Bufo, Bufo means clown,
Treefrog is Hyla, Hyla climbs trees;,
Now is the song of tree climber and clown.

Toads and treefrogs choir concealed:
Toad’s beauty is wartless: his gold jeweled eye
and his breakheart trill;
Treefrog sings from gray and from green,
from pools and from high in the trees.

Now is the canto of woods climber and clown
When white throats encircle life’s song.


What revels go on while we sleep, what eternal courtships, and what reveries they stir up in old brains. Shakespeare said that the toad "has a jewel in his head." I'm sure that Cellini wept when he saw these eyes.