As water feels itself about to change
from liquid to solid it goes gelid,
seems to thicken. The dance of lenses
the water plays on bottom sand
slows, as if the very tempo
of gravity and flow transmogrifies.
Watch and the freeze will not happen.
Slip your eyes, slip back, and the gleam of wet
on leaf has darkened, sheathed in ice.
A swan balances in shallows on one foot,
having grazed enough water weeds
to fly another leg of its migration.
The great bird has thrown in with
the flock of Canada geese that punctuate
the whole windless mirror of Lake Alice.
Most rest afloat, heads tucked under wing
as they wait for quorum to decide to fly.
Ten or twenty birds bugle now and then
but leave off when few take up the call.
The sun is out today, the wind is nil,
all are fed, what’s the rush?
Nannyberries suddenly caged in frost
look startled to be set in bright crystals.
Berries bejeweled may sense that frost
will deepen and sweeten their flavor so
hungry birds will disperse their seeds.
Water is so familiar but today wondrous.
Overnight, the surface of the pond
has crystallized into a field of knife-edged
pyramids and swords, fixed and faceted
by morning solar radiance that will soon
in a blink, slump all angles into smooth.
This may be you when the coffee edge
blinks off, and the nap wish whelms.
You are mostly water too, willing
to slump all angles into smooth.
How do you count geese asleep
on still water?
Each has two heads,forked tails,
one down, one up,
and as they recharge from night’s flight
the geese dream
of reflective waters tomorrow,
with shallows to feed.
Endings have their own beauty
Easier for elders to see
Easy for elders to agree
Frost blushed white on green
Frost on what still feels green
Leaves gone green to russet to brown
Ice crystals along each sharp edge
Visual chimes ignored but seen
Leaf fall reveals the festive
Berry perfectly named
Drear skies finally bless
Soil with rain
Wild Bittersweet carries the heart
Lichen carries color
through the long northern absence
of flower and green,
soothes our crave with golds, dove grays,
greens like leaf undersides in wind.
Find bark, standing or dropped, find
stones where lichens marry moss.
After snowfall, seek this tension
of lichens bright on dark barks,
both flowering the white.
A young possum pestered by a dog, defys.
How its tiny hands splay across dropped leaves,
How marble eyes are bright as any child of Earth,
How fluffed its fur to double size (the dog is most unsure)
How possum earned its life, born jellybean
that climbed its mama’s world of belly fur
until it found her pouch and waiting teat.
Light glows the berries of nightshade vine,
come-ons for the eyes of the hungry birds
who planted the vine here two years back.
One day soon a cardinal will clasp this
sapling birch and lean to pluck five berries
with its self-red beak, fly off for more.
Note: “I do not know any clusters more graceful and beautiful than these. They hang more gracefully over the river’s brim than any pendant in a lady’s ear.” ~Henry David Thoreau
All is brown and dead as oak leaves,
fronds wan and withered, but for
the fertile frond of fern still green,
fertile frond that arrests time,
its spores in convex sori round
and ready, green still eating light.
So this sight grows my day from
drab Fall to Spring-to-come when
a dust of fern spores fallen on soil
moist with snowmelt will sprout
and grow green heart leaves
that swim caught light through time.
Young ironwood trees sometimes do this.
It is not a first date. This woody kiss
is perennial and won’t release.
Roots intimately intertwined
from seedling times.
This was bound to happen.
Trees will be trees.
Neither should be blamed.
Stubborn beauty impresses my eyes,
makes an image inside my mind
that will resonate there awhile
and please me every moment.
These earth-ochre leaves grew
on a young and daring branch
that pulled these colors up from roots
whose rootlets drank them in dissolved.
And walking woods one day I was
blessed to drink them with my eyes.
Something caught at first I thought
trapped in ice and drowned. Some thing
pollen gold with horns or two antennae,
with skate blade ice arrowed all around.
I want to see the animal that isn’t there.
Always do. No, it’s something wood
that started life on land, fell in, turned gold
how? why? against sky edged ice, colors gone
wild below this sweet startle of November sun.
Here a glacial dropstone gardened
centuries of cyan lichen that gave a moss
too a green foothold on bare stone.
A garden to be praised for color and for calm.
Then the interloper showed up, strong
young crusty lichen without a subtle thallus
to its name, plunked itself down
on stone’s end, ate its neighbors first
then grew like the nose of a bomb,
prattling all the while “You will be fine,
White goes with everything.”
Rays of crystal ice
race out from a seed.
Dead leaf? Brown stem?
Sprout of green?
Sources are elusive.
Admit it did begin
and cease to fret.
Let crystal rays
race into your eyes.
Beauty does diverge.
First, to fuel his teeth he scrapes
and eats the inner bark around,
then the beaver drops an oak
in a half hour one night.
How light catches in grooves
that edge his chisel teeth,
How the ridges left cup shadow.
How chips sprawl on dropped oak leaves.
Poison ivy berries wait for beaks of birds
that do not want to eat them yet.
Yellow fruits last to pluck and swallow,
seeds dropped late on snow.
How can this yellow be so far from gold?
Snow caught in pine needle clusters
responded to sunrays by sculpting
a dwarfish woodland hob
with long and crystal shoes,
his body stout, neck not there,
he is dressed for winter here.
In front his arms tote his pack
or is that simply winter weight?
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