- “Wildflowers of New Homestead”
Loosestrife. Nightshade. Pearly everlasting. Sweet joe-pye weed in its dusty brocade . . . You gathered them all and pressed them and fixed them With their names. Even the Irish for apple From "The Battle of the Trees"—the blessed wild apple laughing. All summer you kept it secret, The present you were making of the hours You took to fill the careful pages and notate them: Flower, location, date. Each green thing here Was an article of faith. ("I think of the days as a gift.") I thought about it all again, out on my walk, The Asiatic dayflowers blooming in the woods And the common morning glory. In my bad time, In February, I thought about arriving here Out of the hours of your dying and the huge drifting Of the planet away from the sun. I ached to be transparent and beyond grief As the shadows I watched falling, afternoons, Among the innermost boughs of the spruce. Today Out walking our familiar circuit of streets The flowers you found surround me, As though turning a corner were turning a page. Here as there I'm drawn to the pale ones which have less To fade, the garden phlox and bindweeds, Their yellow almost the ivory the sun gives to lace. Even the evening primrose has it, and the small bracts Of the snakeroot that stumped you for days. Those you didn't get to, you photographed. [End Page 165] Others, whose brief season stopped short, You left pages for in back. Lady's-thumb And trumpet vine. I'll press them for you in these lines, Fix the double-dyed violet of the ironweed, And those butter-and-eggs I noticed at the foot of the road, The way they almost bubble into sight, Clustering upward out of the patch of broken ground Which is the only given in their life.