Saturday, August 15, 2009

In the Green Purse of the Yard This Loose Red Change

Crouched over flat leaves
which parasol the fruit,
I slide a finger deep
and roll a fat wild strawberry
along the vine, plucking it.

Though pinprick seeded,
some berries are still white.
But others dangle like miniature organs
¬–hearts, lungs, testes.

A squirrel joins us to feed
with the lumbering giants
who stalk nothing
and laze on platforms in the sun.

We along keep the short-tempered wrens at bay.
Flying high to drop hard,
needle beak set for stabbing,
they vex the squirrels across the yard,
jeering and scolding.

When we stroll down to their nest
at eye level in the hickory,
they sit trigger-happy on a branch
and damn us till they’re hoarse,
while squirrels boldly dare the open grass.

Ever since we judged it okay
to be scarecrows, small lives have come
to forage at our heels:
rabbits, birds, squirrels,
ground-hiving bees, ants and aphids,
daddy-longlegs whose bodies are mere buttons,
and other bugs too tiny and strange to name.

And each time we feel the centuries
slough off, the yard green up,
our brows get lower,
no rip-roaring born-again pitch,
just a quiet throb about lidless creation
and how the body remembers
what the mind forgets:
in a summer’s hot lull,
the gift of being ancient.

-Diane Ackerman