What Did You Whisper to the Wind?

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

Today’s prompt was based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question. 

The challenge was to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

The Osprey

Today was the day, rising
early to head to the water.
Was that the grasses waving
good morning as we drove by?

Squinting against the sun shining,
who did I hear whistling
high-pitched and clear through the sky?
What bright sparkling caught my eye?

Whose nest was filled with littered bits —
brilliant twig jewels in morning light?
All at once I saw them coming 
fast and furious diving downward flight

orienting with the wind, floating 
on air, streaking like lightning
hunting by high dive, plucking fish
like cherries from the fresh water.

Head buried underwater, tucking
talons back, gripping their wriggling
prey on upward ascent. Tell me,
what do you whisper to the wind?

--A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What is your favorite memory in nature?

The Beech Tree

Image

Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Loader on Unsplash

Earlier this spring, we discovered that our beautiful red maple tree had finally gotten so large that its roots were encroaching on the foundation of the house. In fact, those determined roots had begun to push their way into any cracks or crevices they found, pushing aside mortar and widening cracks in the cement blocks.

Just thinking about cutting down that tree grieved my spirit.

Last summer, I spent many a summer afternoon laying on the deck furniture and watching the sky through the lacy red curtains of leaves. I wrote poetry there, I sang songs, and told stories. Cutting down the tree felt like cutting down a piece of our family history.

But when the foundation expert came and confirmed that if we didn’t cut down the tree, we would suffer irreparable damage to our home’s foundation that would cost thousands to repair, I knew it was time.

We have done all the preparation now–taking up the back deck, removing all the landscaping rocks, resituating other plants and flowers. The backyard seems so barren. My solace has been looking up potential replacement trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

In my research, I discovered some lovely facts about beech trees. I wish I had the space to plant one in our garden, but I’m afraid I would end up in the same predicament I am in now as beech trees grow in groves and 60-80 feet tall.

After watching this video of a beech tree unfolding, this poem was born.

Life begins with planting.

The Beech Tree

The process begins
with planting,
always with planting,
then tending
and harvesting—
nothing neglected,
everything perfected
in its time.

The work is slow and tedious;
the work requires patience—

like the building
of a leaf
first with vernation—
leaves folded
packed tightly
intricately engineered
inside a tiny bud.

Then at the first hint
of summery sun,
the magical unfurling
of beech leaves
baptizing the garden
in spring green.

Finally plucking
the tender leaves—
sweet-sour taste
hitting the tongue—
a portent of spring.

The beech tree announces
the end of Blackberry winter
and it all began
with planting a seed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

What are your favorite landscaping greens (or reds or yellows or golds)?