Poetry: Detritus

I am upset about a few things today, including the strong winds. Also, several recent developments have triggered my trauma. This poem speaks to those feelings, particularly the sense of violation that I am unable to shake.


Detritus

I come to know you through the things the wind
blows from your yard to mine. You once held
the mylar balloons that quiver in the silver maple.
Your inflatable packing is strewn across my yard
like entrails. I walk around picking up your branches,
your receipts, your skiffs of tinfoil. Take my birds
as a sign of goodwill. Let them sing you back to joy.
I’ll retrieve your balloons with a cherry picker —
deflated hearts that announce your love. Your plastic
will become my plastic. Your glass, my glass.
I want your caps, your lids, your Juicy Juice boxes
and their delicate little straws. Let it all blow my way.
What’s this? Your pill sorter. Its chambers are chalky
and taste like salt. Have my watering can and two-tiered
birdbath, my chipmunk and his major and minor hoards.
You crossed the boundary long ago, so take what you want.
This leaf. This seed. This wagon. This hoe.

Twitter: Because I Have Suffered

First response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t care about the suffering of others. Second response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t want to see others suffer.

Spring: Plastic bags snagged in the stubble field are turned into the soil.

Good house: / sparrows out back / feasting in the millet. — Issa

Two mylar Valentine’s Day balloons are stuck high in my neighbor’s silver maple. They aren’t just an eyesore; they pose a threat to area birds. This isn’t how you tell someone you love them.

Dried hydrangea blossoms stumble along the culdesac, the wind’s playthings.

Snow. Wind. A pair of red-winged blackbirds clings to the crabapple.

You can tell a lot about a person from their detritus.

I come to know you through the things the wind blows from your yard to mine.

You once held the mylar balloons that quiver in the silver maple.

Your inflatable packing is strewn across my yard like entrails.

I walk around picking up your branches, your receipts, your skiffs of tinfoil.

Take my birds as a sign of goodwill. Let them sing you back to joy.

I’ll retrieve your balloons with a cherry picker — deflated hearts that announce your love.

Your plastic will become my plastic. Your glass, my glass. I want your caps, your lids, your Juicy Juice boxes and their delicate little straws. Let it all blow my way.

What’s this? Your pill sorter. The chambers are chalky and taste like salt.

Have my watering can and two-tiered birdbath, my chipmunk and his major and minor hoards.

You crossed the boundary long ago, so take what you want. This leaf. This seed. This wagon. This hoe.

Twitter: Bird Blind

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing / and rightdoing there is a field. / I’ll meet you there. — Rumi

I imagine the field of no-ideas rustling with sparrows.

I’ve decided to come home to myself. I’ve been away too long.

I mean, my body has already come home to itself. My mind just got wind of it and is trying to take all the credit.

I feel a twinge of sadness when the American goldfinches fly off to my neighbor’s pin oak.

I feel bad about playing with boas when I was younger. I take feathers seriously now.

I waited all morning for the eastern bluebirds.

I watched birds for years without seeing them.

My house has become a bird blind.

I woke to bluebirds.

A yellow ball flies through the air: children playing.

The more I watch trees, the more I dream of trees.

Backlit birds and a bright gash in the dark sky.

A chipmunk scuttles home before the storm.

A blue jay covers a peanut with leaves before going back for another.

I don’t want to look at birds because I want to anticipate looking at birds.

The rain falls whether you think about it or not.

A wet house finch sings from my windowsill.

Bird Roll Call: February 19, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Carolina wren (heard)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • White-throated sparrow

The day was dark and stormy. I love the way birds behave in this weather, not panicked but animated, driven. A bright gash opened behind the trees, backlighting the birds. It seemed to prompt my favorite chipmunk to return home before the weather got any worse. A blue jay covered a peanut with leaves. A house finch slipped on the wet roof. Another blue jay unleashed the dreaded hawk alarm. American goldfinches flittered like moths.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: February 16, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

European starlings studded the lawn. Two northern flickers stood on a neighbor’s roof. The male and female red-bellied woodpeckers visited the yard separately. I saw my favorite chipmunk for the first time since it went into hibernation last fall.

Location — in my backyard.

Twitter: Sewage Creek

I came home to a downy woodpecker, a chipmunk, and a baby bunny. They were all in the yard together.

Walking leaf, you don’t look like the trees in these parts.

Praying mantis, I see you’ve come to my window again tonight.

I was offered a gondola ride on sewage creek. I said no.

Weeds teach me about the wind.

Daylily, how many fragile ribs guard your seeds?

Fall: Leaves flutter in our sentences.

Rain has turned the sweetgum bark tobacco brown.

My friend is standing in a field painting animals.

That perfect time in the garden when everything is dying but nothing is dead.

Lawn moths are the angels of this abandoned prayer labyrinth.

At the old golf course, two kestrels hunt for grasshoppers.

October: The old crabapple’s leaves are dipped in red wine.

Little blue heron, the lake has made a shimmering replica of you.

Night: We move toads off the road so they won’t get run over.

Beneath the harvest moon, the syncopated call of a great horned owl.

In their appliquéd ballgowns, late-blooming azaleas wait for suitors who never arrive.

Twitter: Pollinators

Atop his favorite granite stone, my dearest chipmunk surveys his territory. There’s time to take it all in before the rain falls.

The rain is loosening the leaves from my red maple. What will I shed today?

I’m a fool like all the others: I follow the light.

Mine is also a life of enchantment.

Together, we are a different organism.

We stand looking at this root, and this root is fire.

And within my body, / another body … sings; there is no other body, / it sings, / there is no other world — Jane Hirshfield

The squirrel who has been nursing eats an acorn on my hammock.

A chipmunk uses railroad ties as a superhighway.

A shower of acorns. Look up! Two squirrels roughhouse in the old oak tree.

I am not alone. The cricket is here. The praying mantis is here. The chipmunk. The woodpecker. Two hummingbirds. And more. And more.

Moths are pollinators, too.

Someday, I will learn how to live. Until then, I will learn about life from the plants and animals in my backyard.

Did you know plants have memories? They learn how to not be afraid. They retain that information. If the Mimosa pudica can do it, so can I.

Mimosa pudica is also known as the sensitive plant, the shy plant, the touch-me-not plant. We could learn a lot from each other.

I saw the hawk flying low today, then high, a shadow traversing my neighbor’s roof.