Monday, February 25, 2008


Spring break, and a Poem for the Day

I have taken a few days to go on "spring break." I know that must seem perverse to anyone living in the frozen North, but here there are no crocuses in the snow—only redbuds, dogwoods and azaleas blooming in profligate indifference to Republicans, Democrats, wars and economic calamity.

Yesterday there was a yellow-bellied whatchamecallit cavorting about the camellia bush. I have no idea of its name, since the only birds I incontrovertibly recognize are crows and vultures. In any case I don't recall ever having seen one, and as I leaned forward in my chair for a better look, the bird spotted me, came to the same conclusion, and flew to a safer distance.

I have even attempted a bit of gardening. This consists mostly in hovering about an emerging tendril while I wonder whether it's a weed to be yanked or that rare specimen I brought home so proudly from last year's garden festival. A wait-and-see approach is called for, I conclude. Better to do nothing for the moment. So I retreat to the porch for some tea or, in the evening, a manhattan and watch it grow. It's good to get some exercise.

Meanwhile I've attempted to pen several Simply Appalling posts. I've gotten no further than some titles and a paragraph or two. Try as I will, I seem incompetent to color in the details, to compete with spring.

A Day at the Botanical Gardens

Like Dylan's park birds, we came early,
packing the lunch
that wasn't allowed on the grounds
and ate it anyway up on a hill
above the Shinto shrine.

Walked through groves, listened
to water splash on stone,
while the city roared outside
like a lion that couldn't get in.

Were simple, studied
pebbles, examined pine cones.
And having come
small, at odds, tense,
slowly grew deep as trees
and quiet as plants.

And took it along with us.
All evening
looked at each other from eyes
still kindly with stones and grass,
still gentle with sky.

—R.E. Sebenthall,
   Acquainted with a chance of bobcats (1969)

Related post
Poem of the Day (4/29/07)


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