Morning Earth Poems
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.
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.
have a hay geometry,
All the rolls of golden hay
lined up in the fields,
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.
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.
a young female sharpshinned hawk hung around for a long time.
Bright yellow legs and beak. She takes no insults from the
After chasing off the crow,
the sharpshinned hawk
perched and switched her tail side to side.
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.
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.
lately out of the nest—
well-dressed for the feeder.
males so red
it's almost too much:
cardinal females so richly
refined in their hues
I can't get enough.
on this morning's pond:
Fly fast, duck,
Catch up to the rest.
ivy is lovely now,
berries white, leaves of
reds and subtle orange.
Each life has its beauty.
into open air
Jay swoops down, touches
Crow, who twists away
and loudly Caw-caw-caw-caw-caws.
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.
days and cold coming,
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.
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.
pulls tired leaves to earth—
reveals dark wet trunks and
the reaching branchwork of the trees.
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.
sideways light of afternoon
every raindrop on every branch
is a small globular world reflecting ours—
what if Earth's a raindrop too?
rain this weekend, but warm. Good walking between showers—Fall
colors through misty light. Leaves returning to earth.
slip left and glide,
abruptly drop a bit,
slip sideways and glide,
closer to ground
with every lazy slide.
The cat in the window
surface of the pond,
Leaves skate quickly across
dressed in red and gold.
wind roaring through the trees all day. The oaks stubbornly
hold their russet leaves, but the wind plucks away.
the sun is up
The brightening sky
is clear and tinted blue—
a promise received
the sun is up
five wood ducks on the water
emerge from smooth dark—
too early for reflections
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.
a Cloud in Cold Air
belt is bright
this spangled morning dark.
a stellar performance:
I give him three stars.
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.
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?
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.