Wednesday, April 14, 2010

of snow & flower

a new flower revolution

just a month ago
when I hiked up the valleys of the Smokies
only the evergreens, a few birds, and I
showed the world we were awake,
the snow heaped deeper and deeper upon the world
as I trudged higher and higher,
all a-marvel at crystalline transformations,
the snow subtle and blurring of the lines,
of the terrain below and the branches above,
adventurous mammals and birds hinted of themselves in tracks in the snow,

now the “on” button is pushed, “pause” released,
and the show is cranking up into high gear,
closer to the earth the race is in earnest,
while the high branches above are more cautious,
for they’ve already won the advantage of first at the light,

we search out patches of violets and anemones,

yellow trillium and the more social white,

wild phacelia,


and bishop’s cap,
beds of feathery, plucky squirrel-corn and Dutchman’s breeches,

and a favorite, up where a dropping stream
laughs and considers down its little cove,
treasures of ginger, lush light-green leaves

above an exquisite maroon flower,
tripartite in pointed petal
with a round cup to draw one in
so that we too are pulled to hide with it
at the base where stem meets ground,

my camera and I hold all we can
of sun & stream & carpets of flower,
and in some pictures I seek to hold both
the white trillium by the trail

and the snow-dusted high slopes at the top of the mountain,
the flowers’ color echoes the snow above, and before,

high up the coves is
where we find enough flowers that they seem to shout in their exuberance,
where the soil is rich and wet
and left alone enough
so that the old growth forest remembers itself
in the ancient feel of big trees
among whose sheltering roots
that most ephemeral has its moments of glory,

we seek a favorite flower of ours, blood root,
which, like us, can foray far enough
to get to the fall line where piedmont drops to coastal plain,
we find it in leaf, its flowers transformed to seed,
so we range higher and higher on the mountain
and find no trace of it,
and we wonder how much it cannot climb high into the mountain,
a flower book confirms that blood root can’t handle
the weather of the top half of the mountains around here,

on high dry ridges
where the opening views can lift my eyes up, up, and away,

I also look down to the lowest of flowers,
trailing arbutus a subtle exuberance
of white and rose blossoms flat against the ground,

teaberry hugs that ground as if to also hide from the cold
and still hold small red berries
that delight the eye and the nose,

how wondrous that we have within us
the drive to wonder at it all,
to hold within us the trillium and the snow,
the blossoms below and the peaks outward bound,

we are such stuff as the eternal and the ephemeral,
and our souls need to hold it all,
so that when we act, we are grounded, and we can also fly.

by Henry Walker
April 10, ’10

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