Settling into the Hush of a December Evening by Marsha Meyer
Now that the maple leaves and walnuts are heaped
into the woodlot, spent hostas bent over their
stems, suet hung for the cardinals and juncos
bulbs, frogs and worms cocooned under a quilt
of ice crystals,
no more buzz of myriad blades, worts and weeds
barging into trembling balloon flowers, caressing
day lilies, wrapping around iris, incessant philanderers
cluttering the garden with their tenacity, their wisdom-
Now that the petals, tangle foliage, cacophony of colors
have hunkered into the soil, hugged their roots, waiting
for their riotous awakening, their pop into spring,
she savors the stillchill snow-flecked dusk, watches
the skinny stray cat skitter into the pines, wishes
it would eat the food she put out.
She follows the early dark inside its hush.
Linden leaves cup the sky. Chiaroscuro
highlights the moon's caress, snowglows
a path home where barley soup bubbles,
sourdough bread rises, and apple crisp cools.
The light blinks out in the studio. Michael is done
for the day. He goes the long way round the house
to look for deer, listen for the cooper hawks, detect
the quiet sting of snow predicted for early evening.
Earth Borne by Christine L. Parks
How do I love thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Let me tell the ways, uncounted, diverse
as the life you hold, forms you take - eagle
and egret, panther and porpoise, balsam
and birch, milkweed and monarch - now a
single snowflake falling amidst a blizzard
clothing the bare bones of autumn's remains.
Now sunrise, dragging all the hues of
morning up the sky, then setting sun pulling
all the shades of evening beneath horizon
edges until only the vast universe comes
visible one light at a time. I love
you in all your peculiarity - gecko and
giraffe, aardvark and avocado - humus
and humans, all born from your womb.
In the woods by Kenneth W. Arthur
I tread carefully in fading light,
not wanting to disturb the spirits
that rule this place. The wind rustles leaves
overhead. A gang of chickadees
flitters branch to branch in a nearby
bush. Over my shoulder a squirrel
chatters, asking why I'm standing here
next to his tree. Or maybe that's
my question. In the underbrush,
a soft rustle the only warning,
a porcupine ambles by, about
its business as if I were some stump
it hadn't noticed before. Far off
crunch of dead leaves heralds arrival
of three young bucks trekking down the ridge,
pausing here and there to nibble shrubs.
Everything in its element,
iike when I embrace my love
and don't want to let go
because I feel safe and complete,
or when I stare at Lake Michigan's
endless horizon and feel enlarged
instead of belittled by its immensity
as if I could close my eyes and expand
to fill the universe. Like I feel
right now in this forest as I smile,
breathe deeply, and walk on slowly
so as not to disturb these other parts of myself.
ARTISTS and POETS were invited
to submit work on the theme:
to our 2023 poetry juror Marion Starling Boyer,
and to all the participating poets!
Of Lemonade and Whiskey Sour by Jane Wheeler
Ghosts of the old hive -
bees that emerged on a short-sleeve Christmas
but failed to rise at Easter-
whisper to the new queen
as her three pound swam settles
into frames of still capped honey -
last year's combs
murmuring keys to the treasure -
pollen and nectar to be sipped
from maple groves, pastures of cover
and the loosestrife growing beside the fence.
And I Feel Lighter Afterwards by Kathleen McGookey
The dried milkweed pod, partially split, sways, leaking a few puffs
into the warm October wind. I crack it open and release a hundred
silky parachutes. Some whirl straight up, some tangle in weeks near
my feet, and some reluctantly leave my chapped fingers. Their
shadowy kisses brush my cheek.
We have created a book that includes all 2023 poems submitted as well as pictures of the art from the exhibit. The book is available at the church.
The Lass and the Locusts by Mary Doud
In 1956, my ninth summer,
17-year locusts invaded. The
incessant drone revved up at
dawn and held forth long past
sundown. Inescapable, screechy
white noise. A pitchy tinnitus that
spared not one hearing person.
Grotesque, ugly insects with
bulgy red eyes, thin-veined wings,
torsos two inches ong. They
cross-cut the air in billowy
bands, looping brashly around
humans as if to contest the
terrain's true ownership.
Down the bank below my house
snaked a rough, rutty trail my
brother and I dubbed the
"butterfly bumblebee path."
We cavorted side-by-side with
known insects, sharing the
habitat gladly. The locusts were
intruders - a scary new order.
When a trio dove into my hair and
buzzed in unison, I shrieked, retreated
to my bedroom, feigned illness for days.
At the peak of my meltdown came
Uncle Erwin - a formal and stern
science teacher. He learned of
my bug-induced trauma and vowed
to fix me. "Come with me, lass,
he beckoned, leading me to the yard. He
plucked a locust from a honeysuckle
bush and wove a riveting story.
Our locusts were not locusts, but in
fact, periodical cicadas- a different
species. After 17 years of growth
underground, they tunnel upward and
emerge in throngs at dusk. Males
dash to adulthood, fly to treetops and
croon a mix of courtship songs.
Females flick their wings in coy
reply. Thousands of cicadas
couple in high, sunlit branches. Each
female scrapes notches in bark; lays
dozens of eggs. After some weeks,
eggs hatch, nymphs drop to the
ground, burrow under, find roots for
feeding, and lie dormant for 17 years.
Uncle Erwin showed me the ivory-like
plates on the insect's underside.
Strumming the plates with hind legs
makes a rhythmic, chirpy sound. Each
cicada's chant is syncopated, but when
vast numbers thrum together,
humans hear a ceaseless whir.
From my 20-minute biology lesson, I
came away renewed and unafraid.
From that day until the cicadas'
residence ended, I became a kindred
spirit. Most days I gathered a few to
commune a bit, then release. I helped
friends shed their fright by sharing a
short version of my uncle's lecture.
I was proud to spread his wise tale.
After leaving my hometown, for 65
years I never saw another cicada. In
June 2021 on a drive through Ohio, a
swarm of cicadas pelted our windshield
like hail. When the traffic slowed, a
single insect nestled at the base of the
window beside me. I stroked the gladd
between us...remembering. The cicada
hung on, rode with us for 50 miles.