Joe’s Run

The turn is hidden in a thicket of trees,
the sign announcing Joe’s Run Road tilted on a crooked post.
A hickory tree droops large-leaved branches and drops nuts
that get ground to powder in the fall by cars and trucks driven
by those who know how to find this narrow track.
Sassafras digs its fragrant roots into the roadbank;
wild phlox, geranium, larkspur, violets line the ditches in spring,
and in hidden hollows wild ginger, bloodroot and gingseng mingle
with mayapple; graveyard vine’s green-black leaves
provide a carpet for showier plants.

Should you meet another vehicle on the road
find a place to pull off and let it pass.
Always wave, whether or not you know the passing driver.
Chances are you will.

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In This Corner

In the kitchen, eggs boil gently on the 1950 Tappan stove,

water hisses in the battered aluminum kettle,

and my husband carefully slices homemade bread for the toaster.

The radio chatters quietly in the background

with news of deadly riots, jailed children, desperate parents,

satisfied businessmen talk about record profits

and a president tweets anger and dissent.

Outside, the birds are busy at the feeders,

the hummingbird scolds because his nectar jar is empty,

Resurrection lilies nod pink heads toward the rising sun,

the dogs track wet prints on the walk,

hens announce the arrival of an egg.

The skies look like rain is on the way,

and the gardens no doubt rejoice.

The world beyond my window lurches along,

spins despair and destruction with golden threads

and frantic voice. But here

in this one corner of our reeling globe

the birds drown out the radio,

the eggs are ready, the toast is brown,

and my coffee cup needs refilling.

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Cherry Picking

Four trees lined the backyard fence
with Christmas red and green,
and swarming in the branches
all of us, the cherry pickers,
scratched legs, shaggy-haired
and freckle–faced,
a gaggle of magpies chattering
as we picked and picked and picked
through long June mornings,
filling dark enamel canner pots
with tart ruby fruit.

When the trees were bare
we streamed inside for peanut-butter-and-jelly
on soft white bread, then back outside
under the spreading water maple,
pitting one cherry at a time, ping-ping-ping,
quarreling, hands pink and sticky with juice,
tired but there was no quitting
until the black pot was empty
and the washpans were full.
The bowl of warm cherries
covered with sweet cobbler topping,
swimming in cold milk:
labor paid in full.

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Summer Holiday

Tire swing and tree house,

toy cars and sand shovels in the dirt below,

roller skates that were a little too small

and a bike that was a little too big.

cotton shorts and Converse sneakers

reading in the attic by the window with a breeze,

lying in the grass to feel the spinning earth

measure one rotation at a time

the passing of July.

 

–with thanks to First50 for the writing prompt.
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Golden

This moment, coffee
in my cup,
cut melon
in my bowl,
cranberry scones, fresh-baked,
on my plate,
the morning sun still hidden
by green trees,
new-laid eggs
in a basket,
the first cucmbers
on the counter,
golden squash
heaped in a bucket.
This.

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Streams on Dry Ground

Another hot day,

This is the day that the Lord hath made,

the kind that makes men drink too much

and women short-tempered,

where meals are cold sandwiches

and drinks are iced,

the dogs growl at each other

and find separate places in the shade to sleep.

The sun comes up white-hot

and too early.

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,

And its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

It’s the kind of heat where cats watch

the chipmunk hurry from garden to stump

and make no move except their eyes

watch, calculate the distance,

the effort, the heat; decide

the chipmunk is not worth the trouble.

It’s the kind of day where chickens

huddle in the shade, mouths gapped open,

panting.

I mix blood meal, bone meal, ash

remember, Man that thou art dust

wipe sweat from my brow,

You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, 

spread the bucket of death’s leavings on my garden,

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it,

look to the clouds for relief,

For I will pour out water on the thirsty land,and streams on the dry ground,

seek solace in the petals of the rose.

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Hot

Too hot to think, to write, to sleep,  to talk.

The dog sleeps under the porch ceiling fan,

the brown thrasher pants atop the apple tree;

too hot for the dogs to chase rabbits,

for the birds to chase bugs.

Just too hot.

 

Even the sun, white-hot in a brassy sky,

looks like molten wax.

I sip chill white wine with ice,

try to cool off in my summer sundress,

but I feel like a red-hot mama,

literally.

 

Just too hot to bother

doing much except

watch the sun sink slowly westward,

the ice melt in my glass,

this day drip second by second

into past tense.

 

 

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