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.

The Catalpa Forest

the catalpa tree in the side yard
Dominates.
catalpa tree and sunset
A late bloomer,
She wears lace in June
on her sunlit green dress


Luxuriously, she gives with abandon all she has —
blossoms, twigs, branches, seeds, leaves…

The birds and the wind
deposit her bean pod necklaces
far away at the grassy edge of the hillside. 


Every spring there is a new little tree.
Or three.
The catalpa forest grows
and the wind is sweet with the orchid blooms.

Her waist is not small nor dainty,
Eleven feet around,
No arms could encircle her.

Green lichen covers her bark,
And winter shows her true form
of gnarled, aged branches.

Birds and bees love her,
and so does the hammock.

The view is unforgettable
on a June Sunday afternoon.
Birdsong and breeze and the billowy green
bring gentle rest to the needy soul.

Reblogged this from June a couple of years ago….

Shoes of Fear

The cottage on Apple Hill Road was getting a new roof.

Ladders leaned against every side safely tied off
by the safety supervisor.

ladder on unpainted house

I bend to untie knotted shoestrings of fear that
keep me tethered to solid ground.

I boldly step barefoot onto the rung. Fear is banished,
no longer in command.

I will walk the slope of the roof, stand at the peak
in glorious freedom and joy.

From there I will leap to the dark swaying branches
of the oak that sweeps to the sky.

Tree in spring

swiftly swiftly now climbing enveloped in the sheltering radiance
of sun drenched leaves and waving ripples of wind and blue,
tendril arms reach to dark limbs, feet find footholds and crevices
that only eagles have known.
toes curl around the top branches outstretched arms grow feathers
head thrown back in victory mouth gulping the liquid drops of air
the sun rays are heat and flames scorching my face
and i dare not look down.

redwoods and sky

this breadth of view this heaven of angels, of muses, of clarity;
Do Not Fear the angels say each time they meet a mortal.
They know we fear their wings their otherness
their instructions
of impossibility.
but each time we unstrap those shoes of fear (no matter how stylish the heel or brilliantly cunning the color)
and run barefoot on the shards of a cracked life,
God shouts with joy, the angels cheer
and the beast retreats into the ground.

Armstrong Redwood Forest