Waiting for Beardtongue


In early April, a single striking stalk of prairie penstemon (Penstemon cobaea) rose above its companions: a few early blooms from Engelmann’s daisy, a bit of Texas flax, an errant bluebonnet. It had erupted in one of poet Kevin Cole’s hard places: the washed-out soil of a Texas roadside. Both its height — nearly two feet — and its exceptionally large flowers brought his poem “Waiting for Beardtongue” to mind; it wonderfully captures the experience of waiting for any flower — the beardtongue, and more.

Were you here with me under the tangle
of contrails, we’d wait for the beardtongue,
and I’d show you where the none-too-demure
stands will erupt in the hard places:
the sorry, washed out soil of the hillside,
road cuts, and abandoned mounds of ballast.
Although I know this stamp of land as well
as a scribe knows his vellum, I’m not
inured to the surprise and ecstasy
of waiting for beardtongue: waiting is how
we measure time here. Not by Chronos,
Kairos, A theory, B theory, or relativity —
But rather by the exquisite waiting:
first for the gray-green leaves to clasp
the limber, nimble stems, then for the stems
to bear the loads of two-lipped, chaliced lavender
flowers turning the field into a mural
of serene, puple-robed Etruscans.
In the all-too-brief two weeks when
the beardtongue blooms, I become
the great shirker of obligation,
look askance at my pressing labors,
leave be fields that should be tended
and barns that should be mended.
For this is the season of untethering
oneself from the dogged troubles of tomorrow;
this is the season of surfeit, when the plain
is aproned in the raiment of beardtongue.



Comments always are welcome.
The poem is taken from Cole’s collection titled Late Summer Plums. For more on the poet, please click here.

A Light Exists in Spring


A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —
A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.
                                        ~  Emily Dickinson


Comments always are welcome.

Among the Trees

The Road to Walden West ~ January, 2019
When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
The same spot ~ March, 2021
I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.
The same, again ~ May, 2020
Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And still the same ~ November, 2022
And they call again.
“It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this,
to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
                       “When I Am Among the Trees” ~ Mary Oliver


Comments always are welcome.

A Few Lines for the Winter-Weary

The Hollow ~ Chris Mousseau

As January ended in Prince Edward County, Ontario, this is the view that greeted Chris Mousseau: a jumble of snow and branches decorating a local hollow. When I came across it on Chris’s Country Gardening site, it brought to mind Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” a poem capable of evoking the strange sense of hollowness that sometimes sets in during the wait for spring.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet Wallace Stevens, please click here.