How can the spindly sycamore
photosynthesize enough
for that 14 foot trunk
and the tower of branch
and smaller branch,
and smaller still, new and
struggling to reach out,
with that sparse lace of leafy

I guess we have to count on
Nature to mother it,
as she does the lilies of the field,
and the small determined sparrow.

I, too, count on her,
but I know that she, also,
must count on me.
Take care.

May Terry


April Elegy

In a hush, as if it’s still morning, randomly the doves
call and vanish. The dark oaks stretch,
each one anonymous and lean.

No one, I know who you are.
Men have struggled with you in the dark and cried,
built ladders and steeples in your name
and killed. Women in labor, great
as the moon, have dreamed the original
faces of their children–yours–

the face of all waters,
green fire at the margins of leaves.
Without you the dark is a bowl of bare earth.

An old woman told me
the earth, one year too tired, would shrug and roll over.
“People don’t change,” she said. “They grow more like themselves.”
She couldn’t imagine new faces. In crowds, in dreams the same faces
came stale and hard as slices of bread thrown out for jays.

But today the shagbark waked–gracefully, Shiva
with his many arms. The shagbark flashed,
its tapered buds split sideways
and shook into the wind
green fans.

The trees snatch from the moon
Buds like tight fists. They grasp and let go
green fire.

Just now and dusk the oaks are steep and black against a sky
white as silk, new leaves so faintly kindled
they don’t reflect in the pond, only
the stark trunks show.

No one, you’re there, the fire of the many
leaves we don’t see in the pond. The mist is your smoke.
I am your smoke.

In the fire and smoke of each moment, my blood unbraids.
Green birds fill the dark.

Margaret Gibson

Shaking the Tree

Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple

belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,

hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed.  Everything depends.

Jeanne Lohmann


dear catbird.


May Terry

The Spring
(After Rilke)

Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems. … Look, she has learned
So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes!

Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white
Of the old man’s beard, bright like the snow’s:
Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right
For “blue,” for “apple,” for “ripe.” She knows, she knows!

Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play
Hide-and-seek with all the children every day:
You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will!

The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things
You taught her: the word for “hope,” and for “believe,”
Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.

Delmore Schwartz

Kiss the Earth

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Bring the Earth your love and happiness.
The Earth will be safe
when we feel safe in ourselves.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, where of stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man’s fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

Come near, come near, come near — Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more bear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.

William Butler Yeats

Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of the fire, hear the voice of the water,
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush:
This is the ancestors breathing.
Those who are dead are never gone;
The dead are not down in the earth:
They are in the trembling of the trees,
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs, in the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd.
Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the woman’s breast, they are in the wailing of a child,
They are in the burning log and in the moaning rock.
They are in the weeping grasses, in the forest and the home.
Listen to things more often than beings.
Hear the voice of fire, hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind to the sighing of the bush.
This is the ancestors breathing.
traditional song from Senegal

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry

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