The Berry Bush

Stoic, she relinquishes her treasures.

Fingers swish, palms purple with the richness

of the gift. She whispers soft

but I am occupied; berries bounce in a plastic

pail to the rhythm of songbirds.

 

The old-timers say

that the harvest is only heavy every

seven years. This is the one in seven-

fat orbs dazzle the eye

and my pail overflows quick,

tongue stained and smug.

 

I strip the branches easiest to reach, careful to

pry into intimate places, seek

her secrets with greedy grasp. I slow. Here, not all are

perfectly ripe. My fingers must pull with

respect, leave the immature for a later picking.

 

The pails are piling purple. Content, I

step back, prepare to sail home

with cargo hold brimming. I stretch,

look up. More. And more, and more hang. I hear it

indistinct, this lesson. On tiptoe, the blessings are harder to

harvest, require more of my complacency.

 

Patience prickles. Fingers falter, accidental purple showers

to the earth. Joints creak, muscles strain,

and here is the true miracle,  saved for last. Fullness scrapes the dirt

plump and glad. The  equation comes

clear, and I laugh aloud with the unexpected joy of it –

 

for when do blessings not hang in clusters,

ripe and ready to pick? And how is great glory not

gained with a stretch of stained hands toward heaven?

Which good and surprising delights

were not made the sweeter by bowing of the head

and bending of the knee?

 

I hear her now.

Her syllables ring loud in the silence.

And I, who teach for a living,

am schooled by the berry bush.

 

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Grass and Gravel

 

I’m barefoot in an emerald sea

stained with rain. Tiny prisms of water –

holy font – baptize my toes and I

don’t remember anyone telling me

that your soul grows

when your soles soak up grass whispers.

My feet swish soft and it all breathes life,

this nakedness, this intimacy with the impossible

green. It is a marked moment, a heartbeat of time

made holy in the offering of simplicity,

of simply being. But I forget so

soon. Distracted, my soul loses

its footing and I am cringing on gravel, bits sharp

on tender flesh. I long for grass, for softer times,

places where the tread of living is easy, where every step

does not set jaws on edge with discomfort. But who can say

whether the sharp awareness of gravel

is not the truest gift?

Ferocious, this biting – but many steps in gravel

build resilience. And is that not holy, too?

Toughened skin, stepping firm despite pain, may

not this be a place of intimacy, of

connection with a life larger than grass?

And I think,

I don’t remember anyone telling me that

gravel blesses the grass with deep benedictions.

I’m barefoot, and I hesitate, deliberate.

I choose the gravel path.

 

As Poppies Sway

 

crinkled poppy.jpg

Descended from an ancient breed, she stands on guard with all her friends;

The sun and soil and rain she needs, she gathers as she gently bends

To rhythms only she can hear – the subtle throb of memories

As November days draw near; with every raw and lonesome breeze

She mourns anew in Flanders Fields. Hers the task to mark the place

Where courage bled; the past revealed that hatred has an ugly face;

Here she blooms beneath the sky, and dreams as stars bestow their rays,

That Peace will last for you and I, and Love take root as poppies sway.

Where Beauty Sprouts

broken poppy.jpg

You hate the cracks, the places where the pain has split you through;

You don the mask, and paint the scars, and smile when spoken to –

And yet, the Dark that pinned you down, that swore you’d never win,

Forgot that all the holes, when healed, will let the Light shine in…

Set down the script, rewrite the lines, take up your truest role;

What tried to kill and steal and lie cannot destroy your soul.

Those cracks, those scars, those broken bones, those spots where pain leaked out

When warmed by sun, and earth, and rain – they’re where your beauty sprouts.

Undisclosed

peach daylily

She envies those with clear complexion,

Bolder lines or styled perfection,

Longs for leaves with different shape,

Curly locks instead of crepe;

She notices when other flowers

Spread their scent in evening hours,

Wishes she could clone the rose,

Or wear the Lady Slipper’s clothes.

She doesn’t see as her eyes wander

Yearning for whatever’s yonder,

She’s been painted, leaf to stem,

In beauty that could rival them.

 

 

The Offer

lavender clematis

Delicate her solemn smile,

Lavender her dreams;

Beneath her skin she hides the pain

That tears apart her seams.

So when you judge her every move

And criticize her ways,

Keep in mind how far she’s come,

And offer her your grace.

The Earth Gives Thanks

 

tamarack cattails.jpg

Thankful, grasses swish in breezes,

Ponds give thanks ere water freezes,

Tamaracks sigh benedictions,

Cattails pray with deep convictions.

Clouds that sail and geese that float

On autumn air trace thank you notes

As earth and sky and beasts conclude

That living well is Gratitude.