Surrounded by organic wholeness, I walk through the camouflage of another ordinary day. I enjoy the reality while I play with the vague creatures of my imagination. Even tiny problems, inconsequential, so best abandoned, are deadened, neutralized by growing distance from my concrete-outlined yard. I move as far as I can from the straight lines of life that sometimes seem contrary to pleasurable, even practical existence and are too often vulnerable to greedy, ventriloquistic intentions. There is no cruel pretense here, just innocent fancy. When I return home, before I again fall into the pattern of expectations, I will briefly preserve the honesty, and (purely from courtesy) reward the neighborhood with my privacy-- every curtain drawn so as not to pull any eye to oddity or abstraction. I may be singing to the cactus, dancing with the mop.
SISTERS FROM A WILD BOUQUET
Is that a peacock at the roadside, head down,
pecking through the pebbles?
Is it a bouquet of small girls hiding,
teasing discovery by each lifting a pink plume?
Is that a dither, wind, or giggling heard
as each element of traffic passes,
too busy with proceeding
To be inquisitive,
or momentarily distracted by
Blue faces of Dayflower excite to meet the morning
from shade behind the trellis where the old crowfoot climbs.
The clematis is not fraught by the touch of adolescents
awed by the legend of his huge bloom
and privilege of the wires, stake, and lattice.
He is a big man in the eyes of Dayflower misses,
and revels in their morning frenzy of
sharp blue eyes with yellow focus
and mouths hung open wide.
They hug his ankles as they lean in schoolgirl bunches
to peek at education in the garden of strange plumpings,
to seek culture and refinement in the great level mask
Until they fold pastel curiosity in afternoon repose.
In place well drained
where substance is abrasive:
alluvium, grassland, banks, bluffs, hillsides,
where broken surface calls for fairness
but might snag her dainty blanket,
Sensitive Briar stitches bipinnately compound leaflets,
tiny, tubular blooms
within shrouding projectile of pink stamens,
blushing, tipped with yellow antlers.
She flushes from positive and negative attention,
but keeps her wits with hooks
that offset apology and inhibition.
Musk Thistle is a heady lady with a violet temper.
She arrives early to punctuate the season.
She makes wings of simple things, cobwebby,
and towers with her overstatement in the pasture.
Though she prefers affluent ground, she abides less alluvial
Wherever she can make tumultuous conversation,
and a point.
Harmony and satin skin is not the nature of all women,
Nor should be.
She is a bawdy girl, this strong-willed thistle,
a farfetched beauty often stricken for her politics,
sharp tongue and lack of manners,
But in the meadow,
To those outside the hardship of her visit,
To those admiring, passing,
who do not know about darts hemmed
like jewels against her garment.
She is a lofty woman running through the field.
In the orange wind
from a sun that set like wild fire,
Slender Beardtongue, the brat weed,
jumps amid the gypsy band.
She tosses head of papery bells,
shakes reddish stem and dark green leaves
She strikes unlike companions as she dances
and fits herself to shreds
to claim a brief attention.
In pine woodland opening,
poking through a lukewarm mat of sun,
Pasque Flower Hamadryad rises near-naked from the heart
of earth, insightful of the growing season.
She pushes an impatient blossom quick with green fringe
to make early impact in full color, blue, blue-violet,
all furred and fine ahead of laggard basal,
And joins a proud parade of unaffected ladies
with cause to lecture Spring until it passes,
Then fluffs plume-achene regalia in company
to oscillate the spot, the woodland edge, the grasslands
For a second spectacle of smoke.
In shallow water above organic bottoms,
river oxbows, ponds,
where lake margin is calmed by aquatic vegetation,
a colony of dinner plates, green ladies,
lay on the water surface, "Shameless hussies."
and bare their body parts,
Oval petals, yellow stamens, single pistil, rusty spot,
a hint of panties beneath white petticoat,
as spectators peek above the water line.
White water lilies think life is but a moment freedom,
comfort, and an instant passion.
Each lady sets uninhibited example
and responds to the potency of cloudy morning
before the glaring judgment of the sun.
In a place left dry, eroded, said done with all affection,
a subtle wench rises above the stones to tell her haunting story.
Purple Locoweed does not wear dark cloth, bun bristly hair
and claim discretion,
Nor dress in silk and slink about with promise of affection.
She does not seduce the usual appetite,
But those reduced
to her gaunt bloom and sharp leaves for forage
will find her an irregular delight,
wicked and exotic,
And will return, return, return to have mind twisted.
Once erotically appealing but cast from fantasy to fact,
Hayden's Penstemon lands in shallow blowout sand
with her feminine effects--
green sewing needle, green thread,
green spoons of swollen beads and bells of color,
pink pouty lips and candle wax
and intoxicant perfume.
She was the best to be imagined, so never quite the truth,
Thrown out like a common trollop on an inartistic
reality of grit.
From sorority of sandy soil,
inquisitive of roadways, railways,
Field snake-cotton is a big-boned, sturdy girl
inconspicuously flowered with wool, not coiffure conscious,
but she has a head for business.
Sister Snake-cotton spreads out branches
to make somewhat more of herself, yet with little ostentation.
In healing blowout boardroom, they meet
to hybridize ecological efforts.
They go deep for answers with little lost to transpiration.
In tailored business suits they endure setback, calculate,
formulate, take corrective measures, and produce.
Solomon's Seal likes the woodland, moist soil
and playful streams.
She rests her bunioned rhizome,
puts her down-to-earth face to breeze and to watch
after a long day as nurse of sorts, as all women are,
with wounds to close,
bones to knit, bruise therapy,
and "tea" wisdom of the contraceptive.
She blooms in tubes and clusters,
almost green and almost white,
and carries on the tradition of dark berries
as she presses kisses in the way of nurses and mothers,
In hopes of making all things better.
Prairie Turnip acquires position in high-class grassland
by strength of root,
and keeps it with blue-violet concentration.
When family begins to swell within her wire womb,
she loses hue, and begins to tarnish,
as is sometimes the way of motherhood.
But this turnip gives beyond her figure, her social calendar,
for life of second generation
when she breaks from level ground and tumbles,
and throws her young, with tinker toys and dolls, to safety
From the blazing house of her demise.
The Compass Plant has a naturalness about her,
Is masculine if strength be so defined,
with stout and hirsute stem and willful stance.
She makes no detail of branches, wears leaves deeply notched,
lobed, and further notched, with veins pronounced on
Lower branches orient her to a north-to-south direction.
This comely female with yellow lights along her upper spine
is independent and not apt to lose her way.
Some say that makes her strange.
Some say odd for other reason,
That she is filled with ancient magic,
Linked to sudden light in troubled sky,
That man must sleep intimidated by her.
Dusk comes to the butte and extends a gray glove
to a smooth brow,
to tuck here, tuck there,
to put the day unworried, unwrinkled and gently down.
Miner's Candle stands stout-stemmed, stiff,
whitely bristled in her sweater, silvery green, reflective,
and reads poetry from the book of landscape.
As it grows darker, darker, darker,
she sighs, sets the world aside,
And reaches to extinguish the last light on the hill.
Death Camass peeks
above the short-grass prairie
at the level of her lookout blossom
the sloe-eyed demon
to satisfy a double-bellied hunger.
The air is noxious
with the smell of cud.
Not a favorite quarry to the cow,
she carries deterrent of poison in all parts
And her eyes are yellow daggers
on a face gone white with dread
As she looks
Where the prairie falls from siege of drought
and wind takes three-quarter parcel,
Where grass shrivels back to save its strength
or dies flat out as ashes, much too dry to rot,
where wind blows over brown thatch, the cracked skin,
the broken back of prairie,
and powders a gray face like an angry woman,
Bigroot Prickly Pear
backpacks colonization, holds up her old with new.
She keeps the faith in her dark hearts
as she poises on edge with nettlesome persona
to fence and make sport of the harsh environment.
Waterleaf chooses her place setting beneath a parasol.
She protects glow of inner dew as she shades
the bugled cluster of her pale complexion.
She pats her face with a deep-notched filigree of palm
And nods appreciation to the hostess of the landscape
for soothing accommodation, company of peers,
and her invitation.
A silver nest blooms red-violet on a pocked escarpment:
Fifty raceme faces on a turf of a tired old face of stone.
Draba-Milk-vetch taproots through what time
has shifted, cracked to her advantage.
She is the bridal bouquet of broken marriage,
no youngster now,
Shucked of adolescent dreams and impracticalities,
with feet too-matter-of-course for glass slippers.
She wears hiking boots and denim on wire-work stiff foliage
and touches an old face through
the working gloves of pinched blossoms
As she tends foremost to her personal development.
Blue Vervain stands thin-faced, coarse-toothed, with blue flowers
in her bonnet
as she sucks trickled water into the long straw of her body
from the ditch.
She stretches upward, and sympathizes with
Cousin Hoary Vervain,
tall, thin, clustered, downy and curvaceous,
in the pasture where the grass is pinched to nubs.
Hoary tucks her collar at her throat and takes the sun bareheaded
as she flaunts unnoticed
where livestock discriminate for sweeter taste.
Blue waves for Hoary to stop foolish pretension
and consider her extraction, to like herself,
seek the grand adventure of treating putrid wounds,
ulcers, wens, and hardening of the arteries,
And to stand somewhere in the ditch,
at roadside, making something erect and colored of it
In an effort to be noticed for a good intention.
On a dry, sandy hillside,
among small pillows and starburst spikes with jute,
Pincushion Cactus bears witness to fertility
as she opens her red-violet flower
and gives green birth to optimistic fruit.
In May, Parsley,
a. k. a. Narrow-leaved Musineon throws down
her ragged blanket on an unsophisticated elevated spot,
and spreads fern-like appendages
and flat-topped clusters of vivid flowers
To take and give a yellow sun before the crowd of summer.
A mature woman, erect and plain,
thinks beyond her lost leaves and solitude
to appreciate products of her environment.
Nodding Lady's-tresses twists white hair to a loose braid.
She nods a stately head as she remembers
particular events of an ordinary life,
and she smiles into the photo album
of her pleasant face on pleasant water.
Where the soil has set a banquet table
rich with moisture on leaf-bearing woodlands or at the river bluff,
Gumbo Evening Primrose emerges from the common clay
to take a late place in the line of one day's passage.
She is a girl close to her roots, with rosette leaves,
and reverent from onset.
She lifts stalks to bear white flowers with a heart,
a heart in every blossom.
She proclaims late afternoon, night, through every morning.
And withers pink, red-violet before mid-day
To complete cycle of vocation
to decorate with her ability,
to hold and love the land