Settling Under A Yellowwood Tree
Her withered tissue and gaunt frame move
through the emerald meadow of her yard.
She takes small steps that pinch the earth.
It’s a strange sort of knowledge, watching
a stranger getting close to the privacy
of ground. She stands in a faded jacket
under long branches of her yellowwood tree,
facing west into the rim of sun.
Hunched in memory, she is almost seeds.
She soaked the ravenous dirt – this acre,
once prickled and rocky. She built
a protective fertile marrow. Days stretched
into their fires and spectacle. The sun
colored each sigh. When there was illness,
terror or unhappy habit, the dirt under
her nails saved her. Trees lengthened
into the proud film of clouds as her little boys
married and moved on. The plants
became her range of gesture and emotion.
Her yellow-gray eyes survey her flourishing
garden: the slim thicket of aspen with
soft ceilings of leaves, a cultivated corner
of felted horehound and bishop’s weed,
small fissions of sage and agapanthus,
and the yarrow thrust forward with a fringe
of urgency. No matter what happened
indoors, silkworms slipped from the green.
This is where life rippled up.
The garden spreads out, velvet and jeweled
though her blossoms are long since spent.
Finches and jays ricochet past, squawking.
Daylight curves to dusk in a filigree of blue;
she is sloping into darkness. Her eyes wilt,
lids nearly translucent. Her voice stirs
in a series of tiny wingbeats. I lean in
to catch her words, but the wind soughs,
carries them away. We are strangers, she and I.
I read the landscape of lines on her face,
then look again at the echoes of color,
the flat stones leading deeper, the crag
of the wall. Here, there is always something
to wake up to, and time enough to make it grow.
Featured Poet, Lauren Camp is the author of the poetry collection, This Business of Wisdom (West End Press), and is the host/producer of “Audio Saucepan,” a weekly music/poetry show on KSFR-FM. She is also a visual artist. Lauren blogs about poetry and its intersections with art and music at Which Silk Shirt. She lives in a rural farming village near Santa Fe. www.laurencamp.com