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After Weeks of Drought
Rain coming back by the bucketful
and the parched grass going brown
to green overnight and overnight in the
dead leaf-bank hemming the stream
a show of sudden mushrooms glowing
psychedelic white in their intensity
and apparent surprise at being there,
at being such a throbbing spore-life
whiter than sunlight rising from
the dark of that inner life they have
been leading in death itself -- the way
you might imagine hope advancing
ray by crooked ray from blackness.
-- Eamon Grennan

Spring River
Dividing the spring river, an island.
At island's center, hundreds
of rings rising. In that tree, today,
visitors from the southern shore,

& further, a pair of songbirds
who bequeath us this melody.
From their droppings, insect eggs
could hatch here & cost the tree

its canopy twice or thrice
until it dies. But never mind:
today, the songbirds seem glad,
oblivious where no one notices

their endangered beauty or hears
their eulogy for the river.
Despite everything, they nest here.
They lift their throats & sing.
-- William Heyen

All day the flicker
has anticipated
the lust of the season, by
shouting. He scouts up
tree after tree and at
a certain place begins
to cry out. My, in his
black-freckled vest, bay body with
red trim and sudden chrome
underwings, he is
dapper. Of course somebody
listening nearby
hears him; she answers
with a sound like hysterical
laughter, and rushes out into
the field where he is poised
on an old phone pole, his head
swinging, his wings
opening and shutting in a kind of
butterfly stroke. She can't
resist; they touch; they flutter.
How lightly, altogether, they accept
the great task, of carrying life
forward! In the crown of an oak
they choose a small tree-cave
which they enter with sudden quietness
and modesty. And, for awhile,
the wind that can be
a knife or a hammer, subsides.
They listen
to the thrushes.
The sky is blue, or the rain
falls with its spills of pearl.
Around their wreath of darkness
the leaves of the world unfurl.
-- Mary Oliver

OnEarth. Spring 2003
Copyright 2003 by the Natural Resources Defense Council