May Posies

Early spring showers have turned the landscape green with dots of pinks, yellows, and lavenders.  My corner of the world is alive with flowers, and I am immersing myself in their glory and hopefulness.  This year more than any other I need flowers and the promise of spring.  I need something to celebrate.  I am in search for beauty.

I am ever grateful to the flowers of Moggy Bottom.  It is my secret garden in close proximity to where I live.  I saunter down its gravel paths and savor the colorful sights and fragrant smells.  Walking there reassures me that spring is surely here, and summer is on the horizon.  It will be soon time for my yearly respite from school.  And though I love teaching and learning, I am in much need for a hiatus from busy. 

When I was a child, I loved preparing impromptu spring bouquets for my mother.  I’d gather them from the wildflowers that grew on the hill at the side of our home: black-eyed Susan, sweat pea, daisies, cornflowers, and buttercups.  I’d gather them in simple arrangements in jam jars or wrapped in damp paper towels tied with string.  I can still see their colors, smell their perfume, feel the calm their beauty brought to me.

Lately, I have been reading about Emily Dickinson’s life of poetry and gardening.  I hadn’t realized that the Belle of Amherst was an ardent and accomplished gardener.  Re-reading her poems, I recognize how integral a role flowers played in Dickinson’s experience of the world around her.  The garden was a metaphor for life and its complexities. She delved in deeply as a gardener would: tending plants, encouraging growth, and intimately noticing the shift of seasons. 

I wanted to delve deeply this week, focus on the flowers of Moggy Hollow, listen to what they were saying, and find a way to express what I was feeling.  I created a posy of flowers to share: trillium, lily of the valley, magnolia – delicate and fleeting like this time in spring when the first flowers bloom and then give way to summer’s abundance.

April Poem #9: The Souls of Birds

I believe in birds. Maybe that’s because I was born in the spring. I fervently believe that “hope is a thing with feathers.” For me, no more poetic lines have rung true than those of Emily Dickinson. Throughout my life, I have often found solace in birds. One of the first books I read had bird characters with whom I empathized. And one of my favorite bird characters is Jeremy the crow from Robert C. O’Brien’s book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Jeremy is curious and kind, and I love his natural humor. I am lucky to live in a place filled with birds. I wake up to noisy battles between wild turkeys and resident Canada geese. This morning, the geese won, but that is not always so.

I wonder while watching an active bird feeder, “Why are they not fighting?” They seem to take turns: jays and cardinals, then doves, then chickadees and dark-eyed juncos. When they are finished, the squirrels dart in quickly, and then are replaced by the geese or turkey, whoever is in the neighborhood and gets there first. I’ve seen a daring jay dive and swoop at a hungry hawk, all the while sounding a harsh alarm for the smaller bird citizens. I wish the human world could learn a thing or two from the birds.

Every winter, I am awed by the tenacity of little birds. The bitter winds and ice-covered branches don’t seem to deter them. I’ve learned a lot about determination and strength from birds. And when winter has me in its icy grip, and I feel like I can’t go a moment longer without some green, spring comes shaking her frilly little head. The birds return with their hope-filled songs. I think of them as angels returning to earth to share delight, to show us that one day soon we too will have wings.

My inspiration for “Nine Song Birds” comes from NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month: 30 Poems in 30 Days, which was created by Maureen Thorson. NaPoWriMo. Today, they suggest writing a poem in the form of a nonet, which is a form I became familiar with last year. I enjoy playing with words within parameters. It stretches my mind and imagination.

My inspiration for “Common Warbler” comes from Verse-Love, Ethical ELA, which was created by Sarah J. Donovan.supplied the inspiration for writing a poem as a song. Dixie Keyes’ poems reminded me of a poem I wrote called “Common Warbler.” Dixie the Director of the Arkansas Delta Writing Project at A-State, a National Writing Project site. 

Common Warbler
A bird – dusty drown
Barred wings, 
Bright yellow breast,
A perfect display of colors.
She’s lying dead near the garage door.
I stand over her staring at her lifeless beauty.
Goldfinch?  Oriole?
No, just a common warbler,
I find some garden gloves and a trowel,
Gently pick up the golden warbler,
And walk across the street down the hill
To the woods at the bank of the river.
I dig a deep hole underneath a magnolia tree,
Place the bird in and cover her with dirt,
I find stones to place over her grave,
Flat gray ones, piled in a circular pattern,
A testament that she was here,
Flew free for a while,
As I return up the hill, 
I begin to sing.