frustration #3

you won’t say they’re unfeeling
the cable men digging a coffin-sized hole
obliterating a season’s worth of green
growing by your back fence—
if anything you feel
for them, waist-deep and it’s snowing
and despite your best compost efforts
the earth is still clay—
after all they moved
the plastic gnome smoking his pipe
cross-legged against the rubble,


life is the network, 2

broad summer is no time for poems
not with sunflowers nodding, laden
garden spiked with color
dart of wings and cicadas singing

rather, all this haymaking over dreams
while the sun shines

some poetic justice though, heart-pause
for rabbit nestlings in the carrots


…and huddles in the marigolds

driving home, in this drizzle

because I saw the opossum
improbably trotting across the road
and thought first of Piglet then parents
children helpless things all those
waiting-watching-waiting for loved ones
to come back and in that slow-flash
you hit your brakes swerved behind me
(is it raining out there? it’s raining here too)
waking not anger sadness superiority but
neither mere impatience
with your impatience

may pond, 2&3

17 may

which will I remember for you—
grass-grown gravel track away
from constant surge and pass of cars
in bright sunshine; eight ducklings
tumbling in still water beneath the bank;
willow’s huge grateful shade; one tractor
loud-plowing this last possible acre
among apartments, hospital, shopping mall


18 may

all ducklings aground
in hidden huddled shelter;
gust-ruffled water



No wildness here. Fountain, nest-box, feeder—
the pond itself—all man-made. We walk across
the hospital car park, half-empty in summer evening
with its surround of tame plantings, neat
golden daylily mounds, cerise scentless roses
bricks, benches, sidewalk. We can still see the highway
stoplights in their cycles, but ignore the traffic
all faceless humanity; we are only this family of three
and we have come for the swans. We pause
at the prescribed seat, admire them at a distance
with their attendant ducks. Our girl tugs us onward
and the male now sails his wings, drifting close
stern-eyed, closer still, huge and real and fearsome
but here are the young with their mother, pearl-gray
slight, arching their necks, sipping the water
learning majesty, teaching joy in small doses


This Garden

in its first summer, I’m fighting
gravity and grass, plus
the sun so much fiercer in blessing
and insects unforetold

my camouflaging clothes
made for errands, patio-reading
anything but weeding
require constant hitch and catch
on the tiny cartilage of rose-thorns
the ones I can’t see

I’m not looking for much
beyond this silence but I say
next year all the greens go in boxes
next year a promise to myself
to my seedlings

sacrificed to the spirits of wildness
(as far as they go in a finch’s song)
my orderly plans thrown cloudward
with not enough regret

the back of my neck like old leather
even my wrists and feet
brown as long-distant childhood

the worm-quest

to break through this green glaze of sameness—
small boxes with neat shrubs, hamburger-plain—
to the good brown dirt beneath, remembering our souls
built from lumps of clay prairie-stirred

wanting a spice, a song, a scent like your new penchant
for sriracha; a jolt, a leap into the vault beyond
this daily circuit, this merely driving
up and down arteries quickly clogging

they say if you’re not growing, you’re dying, but
I’ve been drying on this rack for years, home-grown
herbs medicinal to my kitchen motto: sauce on everything
until I become mere compost for the roots of the tree of life


Thanks and apologies to Jane for this borrowing of the worm quest.

Long Day

for a walk to sunburned shoulders
at every compass point
the hard straight streets
same garage-box houses, pent-up
barking dogs, daffodils
trails to ponds and rivers of shopping

this afternoon privilege, having
diverted us from our childhood
revolution to a quest for happy
shoes: I am turned around

so that sitting, quiet, in the manicured yard
I am surprised to find the sun still at my back
moon still in my eyes, a single white butterfly
flitting like a dream and wanting still
to be in your arms


Prompt for NaPoWriMo Day 16 is an “Almanac Questionnaire.”