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Beautyberry Season
Steven Croft


As Wendell Berry says, "In a place
that is my own place," I walk a foot-tamped path
through my yard's hammock of forest
in a suburban island neighborhood.

I walk to mark the ground's gradual disappearing
of glass lizards and darting skinks, the fading
of the grapevine's curtain of green leaves down
to its tangled skeleton in the slow autumn days.

In the leafy ceiling, crooked oaken branches drape skeins
of moss, watched over by hundred-foot pines, high green
needles bright in the sun, melodies from songbirds,
squawking of squirrels, sharper squawks of jays.

A squirrel sits a lower branch intently turning a nut,
snapping his tail's pompom to let me know I am watching him.
I see two of my cats move pantherlike to a redbird
under an azalea. I toss a pinecone, scare the bird higher.

Then, my respite disturbed, a flock of fish crows comes
from the sky all at once, nature's punk-rockers, loud,
raucous, all about attitude. One lands in my stand
of beautyberry bushes, dips and sways with a branch,

Until seven or eight land, snap the branch.† Their outrageous
calls, the collective vibration of a hundred wings, jolt
the day's peaceful status quo -- they're all about bottom-up
politics, we are here, get OUT of our faces.† Even

a possum, with its laid-back, hippielike gait, speeds up
away from the noise.† Later, they dash my white truck
with royal colors, left-behind graffiti. Other birds, animals,
bushes, human: a yard full of straights, we're all glad they've gone.

This poem first appeared in Plant People: An Anthology of Environmental Artists, Vol. 2 (Plants and Poetry, 2022).
Used with the authorís permission.

Steven Croft is an Army veteran who lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He works for The Marshes of Glynn Libraries, named after Sidney Lanier's famous poem. Steven is the author of three chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time (The Saltmarsh Press), and New World Poems (Alien Buddha Press).



Post New Comment:
I like that too, Wilda. What a wonderfully alive poem and stunning imagery.
Posted 11/11/2022 10:39 PM
Wilda Morris:
Love the phrase, "nature's punk-rockers."
Posted 11/11/2022 08:51 AM
Delightful, vividly descriptive nature poem!
Posted 11/10/2022 08:54 PM
particularly like the second verse - and the first three lines of the fifth verse - also, the squirrel "snapping his tail's pompom to let me know I am watching him" - not clear on meaning of "yard's hammock of forest" or "yard full of straights" ?
Posted 11/10/2022 02:05 PM
Lori Levy:
Very visual. Great details.
Posted 11/10/2022 01:15 PM
A poem packed full. I can see the whole thing!!!
Posted 11/10/2022 08:27 AM
Larry Schug:
Definitely an example of anthropomorphism. Not sure if this leads to the conservation ethic or not. What do you think, Sigurd Olson and Wendell Berry or other readers?
Posted 11/10/2022 07:58 AM

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