All Things Sing You

yellow roses climbing up archHuman ears hear

the chittering of squirrels

and the here I am coos

of the mated mourning doves,

the breeze playing

in redwood boughs,

bamboo fronds,

and ponderous birds of paradise,

each tree as distinct

in the fingers of the wind

as instruments in an orchestra.

But could I ever learn to hear

the spit spat spurt

of asparagus cells eating sunlight

or slow my vision to catch

those green spears soaring to the sky?

Ordain my senses

that I may eavesdrop

on the love song

of the vine to the rosebuds

and the petals’ pleasure-soaked sighs

as they unfurl their delicate curves.

May I too sing You

ten thousand ways

in the ebb and flow

of silence.

Title from Rilke’s Book of Hours, 1,45

On the Eve of Spring in a Time of Plague

It’s true, the hush that has fallen over the world is wrought of disease and splintered by anguish, but with no competition from cars, the neighborhood birds take extravagant delight in their morning song, and the oxalis says thank you to the sun and late winter rain with a carpet of yellow blossoms.

yellow rose

Already vowed through their roots to this particular plot of earth, the roses and the redwood continue to shelter in place with equanimity, while the squirrels show flagrant disregard for the order of the public health officer, racing along their private highline. Of this I am privileged to know a small segment – the piece that runs along our roof, five feet through the air to the tips of the privet, through its leafy thicket, and onto a limb of the redwood, possibly with a quick game of chase around its trunk, before disappearing into the neighbor’s backyard.

Our neighborhood acrobat

Each day the persimmon tree takes another step in her dance with the seasons. The crone who presided through the winter now wreathes her bare limbs with maiden leaves and drinks her fill of sunlight and the mycorrhizal ambrosia twined round her roots, already dreaming of the bees she will seduce – but not yet of the luscious fruit she will birth. Those golden orbs, a feast for humans, squirrels, and crows, are seasons away in an uncertain future.

Spring garden, oxalis in bloom

In this time of plague we knit our hearts to the sorrow and fear that now unite us, but let us join too with the humble psalm of the oxalis. Thank you for the rain, the sun, this greening. Thank you.

The Womb of Winter

Snowy scene
Photo courtesy of Quin Johnson

Hidden in the earth

a seed waits, drinking darkness.

Conceived on a summer day

when the sun suckled the earth,

fruit of wanton flowers frolicking

with passionate, hungry bees,

a seed in the womb of winter

might feel lost and forgotten.

But no,

the earth is not a grave;

it is your swaddling clothes.

Trust in the darkness,

trust in your quiescent potential

that holds all in its nothingness.

Spring will come,

and the light of lengthening days

will coax the glory of God

from the seedpod

and beckon you to itself.

The Channel

mountain spring

Hidden in the hills,

a spring spills its secrets –

milk and honey from the womb of the earth.

Seeking its course through forest and vale,

water calls the banks of the river into being –

Find me!

 

Listen,

within you plays the song of the stream.

You are the banks of the river

and its bed

that give the water a place to go.

Unbraid your hair now, and

let the oncoming tide dissolve

your holding back.

Where the moon marries salt to sweet,

may your gathering waters

flow out to the sea.

Vernal Equinox

pond at Keukenhof gardens

Before work I sit beside a pond

where frogs sleep and dragonflies play.

Winter is tipping into spring,

and already French lavender sends out faint tendrils of scent;

purple blossoms flutter up rosemary branches.

This is what we’ve been waiting for,

my hibernating muse and I.

 

Sun just peeking over a roof touches my forehead

and dapples the rust-red algae

covering the little pond like a velvet coat.

The monarchs are departing, winging their gentle way northward.

Now the sun kisses the page of my notebook,

and daffodils praise the morning light.