We were two musicians playing our distinct parts. She was quick sometimes, light as a flute-note, all over the place. Me, the quiet cello coming behind, rumbly-voiced and talking to myself, liable to forget what direction I was going mid-stride. Together, if a flute and cello can go together–and they did once–we were a whole song.
I miss walking with her.
Because it’s April, because it’s National Poetry Month, because I have always loved American poet Hayden Carruth, I’m sharing these two poems. They are two of my favorites.
I read them from time to time. I hear the distinct rhythms underneath the words, because of the words, and I remember how we were together. How it was to walk with her.
Bouquet in Dog Time
A bit of yarrow and then of rue
steeple bush and black-eyed susan,
one fringed orchis, ragged and wry,
some meadowsweet, the vetch that’s blue,
to make a comeliness for you,
with dogbane, daisies, bouncing bet,
the clover red, the clover white,
walking the field before the night,
lazy under a lavender sky
(crazy and spent from the day of fear)
for one of every kind that’s here,
sundew, burnet, thimbleberry,
all so simple, all so true,
like a bit of yarrow and of rue.
Well, it’s still the loveliest meadow in all Vermont.
I believe that truly, yet for years have hardly
seen it, I think, having lived too long with it–
until I went to clean up the mess of firewood
left by the rural electric co-op when they cut
my clump of soft maples “threatening” their lines,
this morning, the last day of September. My maple leaves
were spilled in the grass, deep crimson. I worked
with axe and chainsaw, and when I was done I sat
on my rock that had housed my fox before the state
executed him on suspicion of rabies, and then
I looked at my meadow. I saw how it lies between
the little road and the little brook, how it’s borders
are birch and hemlock, popple and elm and ash,
white, green, red, brown, and gray, and how my grass
is composed in smooth serenity. Yet I have hankered
for six years after that meadow I saw in Texas
near Camp Wood because I discovered an armadillo
there and saw two long-tailed flycathcers
at their fantastic mating dance in the air.
Now I saw my meadow. And I called myself all kinds
of a blind Yankee fool — not so much for hankering,
more for the quality of my looking that could make me
see in my mind what I could not see in my meadow.
However, I saw my serviceberry tree at the edge
of the grass where little pied asters, called Farewell-
to-Summer, made a hedge, my serviceberry still limping
from last winter’s storms, and I went
and trimmed it. The small waxy pointed leaves
were delicate with the colors of coral and mallow
and the hesitating blush of the sky at dawn.
When I finished I stepped over my old fence
and sat by my brook on moss sodden from last night’s
rain and got the seat of my britches wet.
I looked at my brook. It curled over my stones
that looked back at me again with the pathos
of their Paleozoic eyes. I thought of my
discontents. The brook, curled in it’s reflections
of ferns and asters and bright leaves, was whispering
something that made no sense. Then I closed my eyes
and heard my brook inside my head. It told me —
and I saw a distant inner light like the flash
of a waterdrop on a turning leaf — it told me
maybe I have lived too long with the world.