25 July 2007

killing thistle

killing thistle

sunday afternoon the fifteenth of july
back home on this island
the sounds of small aircraft
and speedboats and
lawn machines including my own
electrically powered "weed whacker" -

(but i'm just trying to
keep the grass
back from the space we
think we need -
for the trash -
for the recycling -
to park the van -
get to the pump -
get to the compost -
around the back door of
the metal trailer built in 1956)

we dont have a garden -
but the compost at least
helps slow the speed
our big green trashbin
fills -
the trashbill
is long past
due -

we pick the berries
and the apples in the fall
and yesterday
laura made two arrangements
from flowers and grasses
and ferns
picked here and there -
in glass jars with
beach rocks and
sitting on the heater meant
to resemble a fire -
currently out of propane -

the electric bill is
paid, and when
it gets too cold we can heat the
house with the oven
the oil-filled radiator
that plugs into the wall
cost 40 bucks and
does a pretty nice job -
it's july
and right now the temperature
must be 85
degrees -

but i digress -
i want to think about
this meadow, again and
how today i cut back the tops
of some thistle to below its
lowest flower or bud.
i'd just learned that
such a cutting does
the plant in -
it must be annual - though i'm
no expert -
i'm barely a novice - and
the thistle that i
cut were few - they'd been
blocking my view of a pile
of old and dried
blackberry vines
heaped to burn at least
two years ago
and now a regular part
of this meadow -
and deep inside, i believe,
there are sparrows -
cant burn it now
so it stays -

now two ravens
call and remind me
why i came.
barnswallows feed their
fledgling babes
perched on the
pumphouse roof

and again, the ravens call and
the swallows return -
the thrushes song
spirals between the two and
and beyond -
a red tailed hawk - fifteen
minutes ago - brought in
a cool wind and
now both hawk and wind
are gone -

here's that wind

24 july 17hr00

my friend fran
often says
encourage the growth of
what is wanted
rather than try
what is not -

i think it is safe
to look at this tree,
a western red cedar,
tipped on its side
and still alive
and ask what is needed
to help it thrive.

wind knocked it over
no doubt –
and the himalayan
blackberries and asian
thistle surround it
in the center of a field
of blackberry and thistle
and grasses short and tall
with beer cans and tires
lurking beneath the summer green
and new construction promised -

this cleared field -
should i dig up the blackberry
and beat back the thistle?
or plant douglas fir and red alder

halfway along the trunk of the cedar
its thick down facing
branches - broken and
slowly rotting – by decades
lower the trunk
to the soil – and
branches are starting
to grow
toward the sky and yet
just as surely
the tree grows toward the earth

and here along the middle
beneath the horizontal trunk
a small cleared circle, unused
growing in, where people
used to come -
you squat to get in, and
there is the decaying remains
of the bench seat
of a truck,
stuffing dried or
missing -
as you might find
a carcass
of a squirrel that's been
hunted -
its springs all rusted -

the cedar must have
fallen in a blowing nor'easter
the crown points southwest -
at the base
the wood is dying -
but i wonder
that cedars don't
regenerate this way,
root from a branch,
like vine maple or
kreosote plants
in the desert –
branching from a root
that is more like
a branch -
true, what once was
the rootball
is covered in blackberry
but the upside sprouts
bright green.


between my hair
and my spit and my
blood and my piss,
if i haven't
left a seed
in this field,
i have
left a sample.


swallows above the meadow
between the porch and the water -
i cut more grass around
the trailer – raked
into big rolling bundles
so much grass – much of it taller
than i am – and gone to seed.
thistle thrives
in places disturbed
three pigeon guillemots
race north -
juvenile robins
hide and seek
in disguise -
and now i hear
a young loon cry.
how can i
uproot the berries
and not
the earth.

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