"And these, small, unobserved . . . " —Janet Lewis The lizard, an exemplar of the small, Spreads fine, adhesive digits to perform Vertical push-ups on a sunny wall; Bees grapple spikes of lavender, or swarm The dill's gold umbels and low clumps of thyme. Bored with its trellis, a resourceful rose Has found a nearby cedar tree to climb And to festoon with floral furbelows. Though the great, heat-stunned sunflower looks half-dead The way it, shepherd's crook-like, hangs its head, The herbs maintain their modest self-command: Their fragrances and colors warmly mix While, quarrying between the pathway’s bricks, Ants build minute volcanoes out of sand.
"Herb Garden" from Toward the Winter Solstice (Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2006, www.ohioswallow.com).
Summer squash and snap-beans gushed all August, tomatoes in a steady splutter through September. But by October's last straggling days, almost everything in the garden was stripped, picked, decayed. A few dawdlers: some forgotten carrots, ornate with worm-trail tracery, parsley parched a patchy faded beige. The dead leaves of potato plants, defeated and panting, their shriveled dingy tongues crumbling into the mud. You have to guess where. The leaves migrate to trick you. Pretend you're sure, thrust the trowel straight in, hear the steel strike stone, hear the song of their collision—this land is littered with granite. Your blade emerges with a mob of them, tawny freckled knobs, an earthworm curling over one like a tentacle. I always want to clean them with my tongue, to taste in this dark mud, in its sparkled scatter of mica and stone chips, its soft genealogy of birch bark and fiddleheads, something that means place, that says here, with all its crags and sticky pines, its silent stubborn brambles. This is my wine tasting. It's there, in the potatoes: a sharp slice with a different blade imparts a little milky blood, and I can almost smell it. Ferns furling. Barns rotting. Even after baking, I can almost taste the grit.
From The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets University & College Prizes, Volume 9. Copyright © 2010 by Amy E. King. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Three windows are at work here, sophisticated spaces against the day, against the light. The sky looks as if it has been added later to a glimpsed world as nobody saw it. Small gaps of awkwardness between overlapping leaves bring their time to us, as we our time to them. The hand alone is amazing, the skull and the owner’s hand holding it, together on a page for fifty years, with the earliest smile. A rope vase of flowers returns the angels to the ground, that still beautiful brown.
Copyright © 2005 Medbh McGuckian. From The Book of the Angel. Reprinted with permission of Wake Forest University Press.
Ah in the thunder air how still the trees are! And the lime-tree, lovely and tall, every leaf silent hardly looses even a last breath of perfume. And the ghostly, creamy coloured little tree of leaves white, ivory white among the rambling greens how evanescent, variegated elder, she hesitates on the green grass as if, in another moment, she would disappear with all her grace of foam! And the larch that is only a column, it goes up too tall to see: and the balsam-pines that are blue with the grey-blue blueness of things from the sea, and the young copper beech, its leaves red-rosy at the ends how still they are together, they stand so still in the thunder air, all strangers to one another as the green grass glows upwards, strangers in the silent garden. Lichtental
From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.
My house is torn down-- Plaster sifting, the pillars broken, Beams jagged, the wall crushed by the bulldozer. The whole roof has fallen On the hall and the kitchen The bedrooms, the parlor. They are trampling the garden-- My mother's lilac, my father's grapevine, The freesias, the jonquils, the grasses. Hot asphalt goes down Over the torn stems, and hardens. What will they do in springtime Those bulbs and stems groping upward That drown in earth under the paving, Thick with sap, pale in the dark As they try the unrolling of green. May they double themselves Pushing together up to the sunlight, May they break through the seal stretched above them Open and flower and cry we are living.
Copyright © 2000 by Ann Stanford. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.