The Importance of Names ~ The Stones

The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To see a red stone is less than seeing it as jasper–
metamorphic quartz, cousin to the flint the Kiowa
carved as arrowheads.
To name is to know and remember.

The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always—
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.
                                      excerpted from “Words” ~ Dana Gioia


Comments always are welcome.
For more information about poet Dana Gioia, please click here.
For the entire text of “Words,” please click here.

The Importance of Names – The Birds

Osprey ~ Wikipedia


Oh, large brown, thickly feathered creature
with a distinctive white head,
you, perched on the top branch
of a tree near the lake shore,
as soon as I guide this boat back to the dock
and walk up the grassy path to the house,
before I unzip my windbreaker
and lift the binoculars from around my neck,
before I wash the gasoline from my hands,
before I tell anyone I’m back,
and before I hang the ignition key on its nail,
or pour myself a drink—
I’m thinking a vodka soda with lemon—
I will look you up in my
illustrated guide to North American birds
and I promise I will learn what you are called.
                           “Osprey” ~ Billy Collins


Comments always are welcome.
Image courtesy Wikipedia. For more about poet Billy Collins, please click here.

The Importance of Names ~ The Trees


Neither my father nor my mother knew
the names of the trees
where I was born
what is that
I asked and my
father and mother did not
hear they did not look where I pointed
surfaces of furniture held
the attention of their fingers
and across the room they could watch
walls they had forgotten
where there were no questions
no voices and no shade
Were there trees where they were children
where I had not been
I asked
were there trees in those places
where my father and my mother were born
and in that time did
my father and my mother see them
and when they said yes it meant
they did not remember
What were they I asked what were they
but both my father and my mother
said they never knew
                                      “Native Trees” ~ W.S. Merwin

Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet W.S. Merwin, please click here.

Autumn Colors, Coastal Style

Carolina Wolfberry ~ Lycium carolinianum

When it comes to autumn color, trees hold pride of place. During my years in the midwest and mountain west, Sunday afternoon drives “to look at the trees” were a beloved seasonal ritual.

In parts of Texas, perfect conditions can produce equally colorful trees, but on the coastal plain autumn color is less easily seen from the road. On a recent visit to Galveston State Park, the reds, golds, lavenders, and oranges of the marshes were best encountered on foot.

Carolina wolfberry  blooms with a pretty purple flower from May through October, although it sometimes blooms even in December. Its vibrant red fruits typically ripen in October and November, when migrating whooping cranes arrive on the Texas coast. The cranes’ winter diet consists primarily of blue crabs, but wolfberries provide as much as one-quarter to one-half of the birds’ energy needs in early winter.

Carolina Wolfberry flower

Wolfberry and goldenrod blooming simultaneously provide a charming variation on autumn’s many purple and gold combinations. Seaside goldenrod thrives among the other salt-and-sand loving plants of our coastal counties, and often blooms in tandem with other goldenrod species.

Seaside goldenrod ~ Solidago sempervirens

As other flowers begin to decline, autumn goldenrods offer sustenance to a variety of insects, including bumblebees.

Even the lowly glassworts shine in autumn. Both Virginia glasswort (Salicornia depressa) and Dwarf glassroot (Salicornia bigelovii) begin life as green, low-profile members of the marsh community, but by early October their changing colors start to catch the eye.

Dwarf glasswort~ Salicornia bigelovii

The taller and many-branched dwarf glassroot often becomes especially attractive, with colors ranging from a true red to this rusty orange. Granted, it’s not as obvious as a maple or sweetgum dressed for autumn, but it decorates its marshy home perfectly well.


Comments always are welcome.

Bagging Gold

Cucumber-leaf sunflower (Helianthus debilis) ~ Galveston Island
All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) ~ Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers—stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space.
Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) ~ Galveston State Park
We rub blisters over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.
                                                          ~ David Baker


Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet David Baker, please click here.