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


A large green seedpod juts from
the worn calyx of the flower of its birth.
The pod is pregnant, full bellied and looks
curiously expectant, for something like
the tendril of a vine grows from its top,
as if it grew a kind of handle,
or as if the seeds inside are reaching out.




In the hollows of the sphagnum bog,
frost crystals grew at night
under starlight and a gibbous moon.
I am grateful for these shapes of ice
that plunge me down time to nights of
old windows without thermopane: glass
frosted ice with such extravagance I would roll
from bed and stand before it in bare feet
to admire and emboss crystal feathers
with my fingerprints and thumb.




A twig on fallen wood
wears a fungus cap fit
for Minnesota winter.
The knit is texture-rich,
with the careless ease of quality.

I am moved by the sporing part
of an insentient fungus whose threads
permeate this trunk. How entirely
pleasing is this procreative fruit
to my hyperconscious primate eyes


A vetch plant offers
to the season
rows of golden flags
windless on a side stem.
The main stem’s
swept bare, but
its sagged tip
wears a hook
as for a coat.



Earth offer me the images I need; she connects my dots.


In the bog, spagnum moss
turns a built-in color wheel.
It rolls in season from green
to bubblegum
and springs green again.
When winter nears
some sphagnum turns pink
while some stays green unturned
by cold and snow. The pattern of
each guise is congruent with
frost crystals stretching through
sphagnum’s pointed leaves.



Frozen trumpets
of the honeysuckle vine
are loud in still cold air, even with
colors muted in death.
No other reds sing now
that leaf-russets fade.
All is crisp and dun except
for white snow on the pond
and trumpets bugling red
from the honeysuckle vine.




Horses know snow,
in snow became horses.
Snow is winter’s toy, the stuff
that will grow a white saddle
on your barrel until you trot
or rear or buck for fun, thunder
up and down the pasture,
prance, toss your head,
flop down and roll and roll
for this winter gift of snow.

Horses and human kids both regard snow as primary entertainment. I love to watch both kick legs up in white.



In our December warming,
rivulets take the sun
and feel it melt the surface ice
into the shapes of water’s dreams.
Curves and lobes, curved lines bright,
whole cartographies of flow
that redraw their maps
in each night’s cold
while below streamlife slumbers
in its sand bed unaware
that free water glides above
and freed light falls through
windows in the ice.




It beckons, this bud of staghorn sumac,
like a spike buck’s crown in velvet gold.
The bud is terminal, but begins not ends.
Ready to unfold from this bud is the whole
template of branching and rebranching
to grow the sumac’s antlered flames.

Resting, but ready for spring. The velvet texture of the bud is prequel to the furred red berries.




The pods of horehound gape,
seeds cast out, empty, done,
thrust me back to a June trail
where I step over
a bowl of nestlings who
gape to my presence
with sharp beaks,
gold-bright throats,
demanding to live: Fill me,
fill me, put food in. I begin!

It’s astonishing how images cascade from memory, given a trigger. In the mind’s ecology, just like outer ecology, everything really is connected.



In this between before real snow
candles on the forest floor
catch my eye, plant blades
set ablaze by sun bright
that does not warm. This plant
has split its stems four ways,
blades curving out like
fireworks trails,shaping bright
calipers with the blades
of sister stems. What is being
measured with such delicacy?

Earth makes her baskets with fiber, space and light.


Celebrate the liverwort.
Ignore the burden of its name,
for this green moss cousin
holds its beauty beneath our feet, low,
and flourishes on shady banks
where groundwater flows.

The skin of liverwort textures my eye
like green lizard scales, which fits
their deep age, eldest of all on land.
Liverwort is modest, stemless,
stubborn, invites flowering plants
to shade them out, if they can.


These tiny bryophytes reveal their beauty slowly and up close, as do good friends.



The winter stream goes bubbly
as it rushes the edge and falls
toward the wide St. Croix,
in such a frothy rush before
ice clamps down for good, or bad,
according to your lights, which
are bright in the prow of spray ice
just down the falls, and bright
on quick bubble cabochons
but not on the wet-dark leaf being blown
across the falls by a wind that
were it snowing would be blizzard.

Falling water is magic and certain; give it an edge and it will fall.


Perception is pure fantasy
the mechanics of quanta say,
So when my camera acquires
more than I perceive, what then do I see?

At shutter click I saw
streaming water edged with ice, but
the image I see now is rich with
flow and curl spun visible and
red-brown rootlets reaching.

I see now shadows that lie
on dancing sunbright waters,
and current’s laugh lines,
swirl and eddy drawn
in liquefaction’s mirror.

Truth is a slippery concept, right up there with reality and other abstractions with no apparent referent. Beauty has no such difficulty.




Spring wood decays, late wood
creates ridged grain and stays.
Old wood is hard, early wood softer.
The cut surface of a felled red oak
sings like a rubboard
on the chest of a zydeco man.
I run my thumbnail across these dental
ridges like comb teeth,
tick off years, twenty in a finger length.

In Cajun, the zydeco rubboard is called Frottoir. It is a marvel when associations coalesce as raindrops on a leaf suddenly unite and wobble at the tip.



It’s winter, pale fingertip cold,
but surface thaws in light.
On bedded spires of sphagnum
a maple tree’s samara has turned lace.
The wing skin has been eaten
but for the airfoil net,
and eaten too the ripe round seed
that summer spun to earth.

Small lives have been fed.


The hungers of small lives have required the maple tree to produce vast abundance of seed, which achieves a balance, and just enough seedling trees.


A Solstice Story

Long ago, Light and Dark were fighting.
Light was trying to put Dark in the dead house.
Dark tried to get Light down, but
Light got Dark down first, and Light won.
Light has what Dark doesn't have,
and that is love.

—Yer Lee, grade 6

Merry Solstice! The old year passes and is reborn. May Light have its way with you.


Stream ice winds downhill,
water racing under.
The curve re-curve
stream makes is cyma,
a wandering S of white,
where all about its banks
tinged oak and birch leaves wait
for snow to reveal true
contours of terrain,
muscles and hollows,
roundings and rock bones,
wait for water race to slow
to solid cyma made of cold.


We are missing light on snow, that subtle shadowing that teaches us of land contour and shapes of wind. Soon.



A boulder floats on water, in full sun.
The boulder’s shadow on water is round
as the tumble of the boulder in the flood
of glacier melt that smoothed it pure.
The boulder floats in an inch of ice melt
which floats on six ice inches
which floats on Lake Alice, which is oval,
stretched round. The boulder is clean
and clear as few things are or seem.
In a Magritte sky, the boulder floats.




Curves and rays,
shapes of sunlight, shapes of galaxies,
radiants from a star, vibrant heat, waves of light,
these forms recur though all.
Earth’s very shape, her faultline quakes
rolling seismic rays through rock.
And small by my foot, here on a hillside
high above a river turn,
curves and rays repeat
in a winter leaf, its brown curl, branched veins,
near the curves and rays
in the fungus turkey-tail, curves in color striped,
rays fanned from centers inside the stump
eased toward the circle of rebirth by fungus,
rays and curves as well
in a snapped-off elderberry stem,
the center circle pith we once bored out
to craft bright whistles,
fine rays in outwood from that pith sun.
Each part holds the whole.
Each source of heat,
each growth of curves and rays, like you, like leaves, like me
contains the whole.

Paradox, as often as not, is an aid to thought.


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