Bio Note: I had intended to submit an "A Time to Reap" poem + photo from my China 1992 project, but I've had a laptop catastrophe, and after six weeks I'm still waiting to learn if my last three years of data can be saved. So here instead is a 1979 spring poem, which I hope still somewhat fits the theme. (Btw the only reason I still have a copy of this one is that my father recorded his reading of it on a cassette he sent me, which I rediscovered after he died. So yay to improbably salvaged data!)
Sunlight on Wildflowers
1. Gathering in the Blackberries The whites of the dogwood come tumbling among the seedlings; the sagging yellow throats of honeysuckle spill their last exhalations on the path. Shaken about our ankles go clusters of wild roses, go jostling ragwort. Sun and wind wash liquidly around the fringes of the clearing. A shock of blackberries merges and emerges where the shadows cross. Shoulder to shoulder we stand and we move apart, in and out the shadows, gathering in the blackberries, three turns of the circle, till we end at last shoulder to shoulder. Juice-spattered and thorn-squiggled. As from the branches of a chinaberry tree a mockingbird pours out its odes and elegies. 2. Tending the Vegetable Patch The spring rolls in and out in waves, spilling its lives and its colors like so much water: the whites of the dogwood, the yellow-throating honeysuckle. All winter you hung out sunflower seeds, to watch the cardinals and mockingbirds rock from the basket. Now see this flower they planted lift its one small bud, reaching its greens up through the plantains. Between the kitchen windows which the bees bang into, the hollyhocks, like casual hat stands, slouch from their weight of mauves and purples. Spring's prodigals flood home in bunches, spending their vivid breaths like water. I remember how June runneled in and out the streets of London, back where I mowed, as I still do, around the buttercups, and climbed dead elms, and harried quick ants into cracks between the paving slabs, where the unkillable weeds thrust out. How I loved, more even than I did my father’s roses, those dogged wildflowers, the dancing seed of dandelions, the chickweed's green flame breaking through cement. Time's dust scatters in a shaft of sun, as today I bend over thistles, tending the vegetable patch, staining my brown hands browner. How beams of it mote through me— in, out, in—splattering scent, light, loam like water.
©2022 Derek Kannemeyer
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