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John Caddy
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John Caddy's
Morning Earth Poems
October 1998



Autumn Paradox
Loud bluster of wind hour upon hour
made the trees roar.
The air stormed and swirled with leaves
as the wind tore the tongues from the trees.



As twilight spreads across the pond,
a doe and her twin fawns come down to drink.
Born last spring the twins so long-legged now
they look improbable as moose,
as if they might be awkward, like
human children in that first long-legged
spurt of growth.
Clumsy or graceful in their unfolding,
as they bend to drink,
both fawn and child are beautiful.



Gray clouds break,
Sun slashes through—
Woodducks on the pond ablaze!
Squirrel on the branch—
his tail curls
What is the question?

I miss haystacks, all their shapes and sizes.
Each ancient shape brought here
from the turning seasons of a thousand years
in Finland, Sweden, Serbia.
Some grew up around a centerpole,
some were mystery shapes that grew
from pitchfork, throat-dust, sweat.

Now we have a hay geometry,
All the rolls of golden hay
lined up in the fields,
cylindrical, machined.

Bicycling past their fields at dusk,
haystacks became huge animals,
woolly mammoth, musk ox, mastodon, whatever
was built like a hill with shaggy sides.
Sometimes great beasts hid inside.


10. 8.1998

Finally a clear sky as morning wakes. No wind. Today I will feast on Autumn light. Migrating woodducks on the pond in flocks of twenty or so every day now. The juvenile males are full of vinegar, chasing and harassing everyone:

Woodducks race around
the pond, beat reflected trees
into bright spray.

Yesterday a young female sharpshinned hawk hung around for a long time. Bright yellow legs and beak. She takes no insults from the crows:

After chasing off the crow,
the sharpshinned hawk
perched and switched her tail side to side.

Hungry hawk raced the chickadee
round and round the elm
with no real hope,
like a bully on the playground
trying to catch an agile little kid.

The circle of that bird-chase round the tree
is the circle of the seasons
is the long circle of migration
is the circle of all our lives
is the circle the woolly bear
curls into in your hand

When I bend to gently pick up
a woolly bear I am five again—but
the bending used to be easy.



Young cardinals
lately out of the nest—
finally sleek-feathered,
well-dressed for the feeder.

Cardinal males so red
it's almost too much:
cardinal females so richly
refined in their hues
I can't get enough.

Only one duck
on this morning's pond:
Fly fast, duck,
Catch up to the rest.



Even poison ivy is lovely now,
berries white, leaves of
reds and subtle orange.
Each life has its beauty.



Crow flies into open air
Jay swoops down, touches
Crow, who twists away
and loudly Caw-caw-caw-caw-caws.


Been watching eight or ten bluejays harass a crow. The strategy is loud. How many hundreds of thousands of years has this been going on? The crow seems to be a youngster. Maybe born this year. This old war is built into the genes—neither side has any choices; the jays must harass crows. The young crow cracks the egg, leaves the nest to discover that there is a war going on, and every crow, every jay, gets to play.



Short days and cold coming,
sluggish sun.
Beneath the fallen leaves, fat toads
have begun their digging,
begun to bury themselves alive for the winter,
and hope they are fat enough to last.

On a walk down the road yesterday, three red-bellied snakes dead on blacktop. Delicate and small, one died lifting his head, which is still raised. No light in his eyes. A sunwarmed road is clearly a place to bask. Nothing prepared them for us.



Strange to see the surface of the pond so still.
Painted turtles no longer bask on the floating log,
They're digging in the mud below,
ready to shut down lungs.
Painted wood ducks in their flocks
done dashing at each other.
The pond is cool and calm as
the muskrat's quiet V as she meanders by.
A small "plop" as she dives
to the doorway of her den.



The weight of rain
pulls tired leaves to earth—
reveals dark wet trunks and
the reaching branchwork of the trees.

Woke to thunder-roll and a good long rain we needed, downpour tapering to steady, first light gleams in soaked and fallen leaves.
Heard an out-of-season "ookalee", looked around—
Five redwinged blackbird males lined up above me on the wire.
Put a spring smile on my face.



After Rain

In the sideways light of afternoon
every raindrop on every branch
is a small globular world reflecting ours—
what if Earth's a raindrop too?

Soaking rain this weekend, but warm. Good walking between showers—Fall colors through misty light. Leaves returning to earth.



Leaves fall sideways,
slip left and glide,
slide right,
abruptly drop a bit,
slip sideways and glide,
closer to ground
with every lazy slide.
The cat in the window

Wind-riffled surface of the pond,
Leaves skate quickly across
dressed in red and gold.

Strong wind roaring through the trees all day. The oaks stubbornly hold their russet leaves, but the wind plucks away.



Gifts Before Sunrise

Before the sun is up
The brightening sky
is clear and tinted blue—
a promise received

Before the sun is up
five wood ducks on the water
emerge from smooth dark—
too early for reflections



Arc of Our Lives

Cattail leaves spent a long green summer
aiming like lances at the sun.
Now the browned leaves bend down at the tips
in a fine long curve,
aiming at the earth,
aiming for their return.


My Breath a Cloud in Cold Air

Orion's belt is bright
this spangled morning dark.
a stellar performance:
I give him three stars.


Days are shorter. What daylight there is becomes more precious. Out to get the newspaper in the dark—the schoolbus flashed its lights just down the road. Poor kids.



Wake-up Energy

Out to get the paper,
Heavy fog and a neighbor's howling dog.
Something moving over there!
Racing past my shoes—
a cottontail who doesn't care
for Halloween, or fog, or howling dogs.



Light spills over the full field
of spent goldenrod and asters,
flower heads glowing white
as an old goat's beard.

The roadside weeds
have turned flowers into seeds,
captured sunlight, each wispy seed
a promise stored for a new bloom
of goldenrod and aster blue.


It seems the whole earth is gone to seed now.




The milkweed pods are split
and swollen white with seed
and ready for the breeze to lift them
to a place to grow, a gopher mound
of soil that's freshly turned.

Monarch butterflies return next spring
to place their seed on milkweed leaves,
where their green children can eat,
and grow, and sleep, unfold new flower wings.

Do gophers know they garden butterflies?



Autumn Leaves

Rake them up and
sweep them up
and make a crackly pile.
Jump in them and
roll in them
and you will crack a smile.


Leaves thick now upon the ground. Been thinking about trees and leaves. Deep down, ground-water dissolves minerals from rock. Roots pull those mineral tree-foods up and use them to grow leaves. The minerals from deep down stay right in the leaves. The leaves fall and decay, and those minerals fertilize the topsoil. So the tree is a giant fertilizer plant that circulates minerals from deep-down to the topsoil. How can people regard leaves as a nuisance?



All Hallows Eve rumbles down
to us from deep in time.
The olden days are Jack-of-Lanterns
burning in our memories,
who smile their toothy smiles
and speak of treats and harvest feasts,
and the fun surprise of tricks and fear.

Perhaps the fear has always been
of Winter's coming cold,
and deep in Time the glacier's edge.
Perhaps the fun has always been
a full belly at the harvest feast
and knowing the Great Wheel
would roll and spring return.