Landscape as Elegy for the Unspent

This entry is part 77 of 92 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2011


In memoriam, Jeffrey H. Richards

The bulbs that wintered in the ground
have ripened their hoard of secrets:
all is color, ruinous color, overpowering
scent. Balm grows in soil that has stained
the gardener’s hands, sweetened the tea
his wife must have brought sometimes
for him to drink. Cerulean, croons the warbler
whose shadow crosses the yard; flame orange,
hibiscus, mauve, lime— And for all this,
nothing is ever spent.*
In the cool afternoon
his friends gather in a courtyard
to remember his days. They sing a hymn
about the apple tree in a seed, the flower
in the bud. Between the church and town,
long-legged birds wade in river water. So much
like them, we’ve moved against the current,
shielded our eyes against the sun, straining to read
the letters scripted by some hand on the sides
of boats rocking gently in the pier.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

* from “God’s Grandeur” by G.M. Hopkins

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One Reply to “Landscape as Elegy for the Unspent”

  1. Between the church and town,/ long-legged birds wade in river water. So much/ like them, we’ve moved against the current…

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    —Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur


    Like silt at the bottom of creek boulders,
    wading against the current must be residue
    of an apostasy proclaimed, a paradise lost
    somewhere East of Eden. But it was good.

    There would be toil and a struggle for love,
    and upon his progeny an edict of suffering
    pain at the birth of all begotten children.
    But does this act not bring exquisite joy?

    What price life if it were merely a wading
    through the gentle streams of a lotus land?
    Why flaunt dominion over all that grows
    or dies for these where nature is never spent?*

    Let me shield my heart, hearth, and home
    With all the strength and defiance I can hold.

    —Albert B. Casuga

    * Hopkins

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