Under the Shedding Sycamore

With apologies to Henry W…


Under the shedding sycamore tree
The irritated gardener stands;
The gardener, a busy woman is she
With aching back and hands,
And the muscles of her flabby arms
Are weak as rubber bands.


What, what to do with all that bark?
Now strewn out all around
It covers the the porch, the roof, the yard,
And every scrap of ground.
Why are apples in short supply,
Yet worthless bark abounds?


Her back is tired from bending,
The garden cart piled high
With quirky pieces of papery bark–
There a nose, there a mouth, an eye
A mask of camouflage, faces of wood
Still all on the grass they lie.


Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear the litter fall,
Achenes in spring, bark in summer
Giant brown leaves in fall.
And the branches come down every season
With no regard for all.


Cursed, cursed are those who planted
This regal sycamore
With no thought to it’s future girth or height
Just ten feet from the door,
When we would prefer its litter to fall
All on the forest floor.


Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,
Onward through the yard she goes;
Each morning sees the same task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
How long, how long must this go on
Before she has earned repose?


Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Don’t plant a sycamore near thy house
Or all thy days will be fraught
With leaves, achenes, bark, and twigs
And thy battle will come to nought.

Redemption 

Imago resting on the wicker–
I thought him a leaf until he
flickered and showed his true self.

Borning or dying? Two weeks he lives;
Red cherry-stained wings forgive
His dark Instar larval past

when he thieved oak and wild cherry leaves.
Io carries proof of redemption–
the universe on his wings.

The Gloriousness of June

I THINK
I will write you a letter, 
June day.
Dear June Fifth,
you're all in green,
so many kinds and all one
green, tree shadows on
grass blades and grass
blade shadows. The air
fills up with motor
mower sound. The cat
walks up the drive
a dead baby rabbit
in her maw. The sun
is hot, the breeze
is cool. And suddenly
in all the green
the lilacs bloom,
massive and exquisite
in color and shape
and scent. The roses
are more full of
buds than ever. No
flowers. But soon.
June day, you have
your own perfection:
so green to say
goodbye to. Green,
stick around
a while.
         -- James Schuyler

James Schuyler has written the perfect poem: a love letter to a day in June. Not just any day. Today.

June green is unlike any other, vibrant and alive, still nourished by the spring rains, not yet ruined by hot sun, nor eaten by insects. Next to the June green, the peonies are more vibrant, the sundrops more sunny, the daisies more pure. Yes, June green is more.

The gardens are planted, red pears and green apples are growing, cherries are ripening, birds are nesting, perching, and singing.

The wild primrose opened in Sunday’s sun and surprised the surrounding motley plants. Her dazzling yellow perks up the shabby shed and makes the neighboring weeds look more stately. 

The new gate opens wide and the new fence keeps the fruit trees in and the riffraff critters out (so far).


If I stand by the garden gate I can watch the grape vines growing, their tendrils curling around and around. The grapes are too small still to be more than a vague hope. Will they be sweet? Will they be juicy? Will they be jam or wine?

The cherries are yellow, blushing pink. I ate one today, still sour, still small. Bluebirds are nesting in the eaves of the porch; wrens are nesting by the door. They can have some cherries as long as they share the deep blue June sky.

Dear June fifth, you are glorious. You are enough.