Bio Note: Poetry of Place: I seem to be embedded in it as the sun turns – and possibly there is no better place to be in fall than New England or as I look out the window, Vermont. We suffer the blizzards, mud, mosquitoes – for this. I'm rereading Ruth Stone and other Vermont poets (yes, Robert Frost...) For more poems, visit triciaknoll.com
Mellow gold skin with a hot-flash blush sprung in a wetland where wanderers dropped seed or where neglect overcame a pioneer orchard. Unkempt volunteers respected for hardiness, for serving beyond their time. Come September, heavy-bearing limbs beckon, tease the doe and taunt the coming snow. Wild apples. Is this who I am? No one’s necessity ripening to cider – sweet, then tart toast before it vinegars.
Tattered monarchs head south over Muddy Brook Reserve. One-way traffic. Adults on wing over shoulder-high goldenrod, purple and white asters. None of the milkweed show tell-tale green and yellow-striped larvae; too late for that. The dragonflies lack direction, free-buzz like Harley guys out for a spin. The monarchs aim for Mexico. And two weeks ago a baby was born. Transformed. Water to air. Water to milk. Rolled up to rolled out. Thumped to burp; new rules. Whispers in an unbuffered ear about wanderers changing the world. Cloud ogres wearing pantaloons and boots. Without my doing anything more concrete than wishing, little one, you transform me into a grandmother, that benevolent force that must watch over some cocoons to help them become monarchs. One butterfly lands on a wild purple aster. I reach into my pocket for a cell phone to grab a close-up of orange and black on purple and green. Focus. The monarch is gone. Nothing stands still. The course of “granding” teaches that I won’t see everywhere you go and all you will become. So I witness and record this September afternoon when the monarchs knew what they had to do, differing from what the dragonflies had to do. The day I peeled strips of birch bark to write a letter to your grandfather. Magic is subtle. The cricket drone is louder now than the mosquito’s whine. May your peregrinations bring you one day to stand in a meadow like this shoulder-high with goldenrod, smelling of gone-feral apple trees, and gray dogwood berries turning purple.
The Pioneer Apple Tree in Powell Butte Nature Park
suckered up from below the graft barely visible in lichen and skinny twigs mountain bikers in gaudy helmets stir the dust trail going by you don’t remember who planted who and no one remembers you from the noon that the bee touches the open blossom to leaf drop and your apple-rocks tie onto withered limbs striped a little green and red but no one cares for tastes of bitter apples left behind the dogs aren’t fooled for tennis balls the hikers want only view to the river gorge you, gnarly heritage relic, no baby spits your cinnamon sauce not me, nor my friend maybe the horses that made the first trail ruts reached up or tick-bitten deer follow midnight from the low rush shade where your hill cleaves into wallow yours is an ending-season realm of wasps, angry devils that suck at dented holes in your puckered fruit vampires that think you’re good enough to rise up from below hard ground to taste-swarm leathered mummy skin.
©2020 Tricia Knoll
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