Spring distractions

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the series Ridge and Valley: an exchange of poems

Dear Todd,

The first azaleas are just beginning to bloom, with the usual
profusion of scent that would put a hooker to shame.
But who eulogizes the odorless oak blossoms, those caterpillars
in need of a spam-mail cure for erectile dysfunction?
The white locks of the bridal wreath bush are perkier by far,
tossing in the wind. I’m worried that if this cool, damp weather
persists, we might see another autumn without acorns.
Between rains, the carpenter bees come out to give my house
a thorough inspection. I’m reading about the convergent habits
of certain perennial wildflowers & a few species of walking sticks,
both of which make their seeds or eggs into fast-food bait for ants,
gambling that the ants will throw the inedible portions, packed
with their embryonic offspring, into the mother-warm midden.
How did slow-growing early bloomers & tree-eating sticks
both learn to exploit this bug? I gaze at the greening woods,
as I do so often, for clues of the original template — the once-
towering tulip poplars, white pines, American chestnuts. It’s like
trying to picture the naked body of a woman I’ve never met.
The Cooper’s hawks nesting half-way up the ridge emit
what we’d call chirps if they were songbirds
or notes of affliction if they were electronic angels,
placed for surveillance purposes among the crowd of leaves
cautiously exposing themselves to the rumored sun.
A red blur goes past: the throat of a hummingbird
hell-bent on drinking from some pink, inverted cup.

Series Navigation← Letter to Dave from the Karen Noonan Center on the Chesapeake BayLetter with May’s Insatiable Hunger Tagging Along →

4 Comments


  1. Nice to see you carrying on your response poems. And the poem does take on the tone of a letter written in poetry. So many chatty observations that are metaphors and yearnings.

    I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed all your aphorisms with drawings during April.


    1. And the poem does take on the tone of a letter written in poetry.
      Yes, it’s hard to get away from that tone, actually. I don’t feel this is one of the most successful in the series, but the important thing is to keep the conversation going — it’s been more than a month.

      Glad you enjoyed those greeting cards. I can’t take credit for the illustrations, though – that was all someecards’ doing.


  2. I like the way you come subtly back to the azaleas in the end. I was noticing this morning that we are moving out of the time of yellow blooms — forsythia, daffodils — and into the pinks and purples of azalea and irises. Of course there are the copious white black locust blossoms too.


    1. It’ll be a couple weeks until the irises and locusts are out here, but yes, the first major wave of yellow is past — replaced by the second wave, which includes winter green mustard and cypress spurge. Also, the barberries are in bloom, which provides an interesting scent contrast with the lilacs.

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