Egg dyeing; a surfeit of candy; patent leather shoes; fancy dresses in pastel colors; white gloves, and hats decorated with straw flowers: such were the traditions of Easter during my childhood, and I loved them all.
Only one aspect of our celebrations held no appeal: the appearance of the ubiquitous Easter lily. Its image adorned greeting cards, church bulletins, and the Easter Seals we affixed to letters and bill payments, while live plants filled store aisles, appeared at the front door in the hands of well-meaning neighbors, and nearly outnumbered worshippers on Easter Sunday.
Everyone said they were beautiful. It’s true that they were pretty enough, but what others called their fragrance, I thought of as their odor. In my twelve-year-old opinion, eau de skunk would have been preferable.
One flower at a time, please,
however small the face.
Two flowers are one flower
too many, a distraction.
Three flowers in a vase begin
to be a little noisy.
Like cocktail conversation,
A crowd of flowers is a crowd
of flatterers (forgive me).
One flower at a time. I want
to hear what it is saying.
“Bouquet” ~ Robert Francis
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
~ Emily Dickinson
Around 1813, Emily Dickinson’s grandparents, Samuel Fowler Dickinson and Lucretia Gunn Dickinson, built what may have been the first brick home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Fowler Dickinson, an attorney who participated in the founding of Amherst College, soon had company in the house other than his wife. In 1830, the Dickinsons’ son Edward, also an attorney, moved with his wife and young son into the western half of the Homestead. It was there, on December 20 of the same year, that Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born. In 1833, her sister Lavinia was born: also at the Homestead. Continue reading
Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri) ~ Click to enlarge
snow o’er drifts
the land ~ blossomed
sedge. Ditch-bound, flamboyant,
lilies lean across the dawn
to greet the day’s dark greening, while
poppies fling white petals wide ~ pristine,
flurried exuberance, melting away.
Naturally enough, birds tend to attract human attention by their activities: flying, feeding, courting, fighting. A mockingbird singing at 4 a.m. will not be ignored. A blue jay, irritated by a squirrel’s antics, can be heard for blocks. Chattering sparrows, self-important grackles, and apparently demented woodpeckers all vie for their share of the spotlight.
Around the water, things are different. Rookeries are raucous, and the increasingly desperate cries of mallards in mating season can penetrate walls, but water birds generally tend to be quiet sorts: like children of an earlier time, cautioned by parents to be seen, but not heard.
A sure sign of winter, the arrival of coots and gallinules on the Texas coast is especially quiet. One day, there are none. The next day, flotillas of birds bob like decoys on the water: placidly drifting from place to place, picking their way through lily and lotus on elongated toes, quietly clacking and chirring to one another in clipped, metallic tones. Continue reading
tumble toward rest;
bank low through owlets
scattered and still; lend voice
to the tree-bound, huddled or
hunted — sweeping through sleepers’ dark
feathered dreams while stars limn their flight, limb
to strange limb, seeking, then finding, their peace.
Comments always are welcome.
Special thanks to Terry Glase for the use of his photo titled “Sunrise.” Click HERE for three larger views of the same sunrise, shown on his site. For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.