Two Poems

The Horse Chestnut Is About To Go Extinct

in Europe. In North America, we’ve already lost
half of our bird population. The meadowlark,
I’ve only seen once in my life, though I’ve listened
often to its song. It is disappearing, in the wake
of ugly parking lots and hungry cats, of every tree
torn down, of contaminated water, soil, insects.
No one celebrates enough the moment right before
someone or something disappears. I know this.
Many times when I take pictures of trees, or birds,
or my husband, it is because I want there to be a trace,
history, of the things I loved. The meadowlark’s song
might be forgotten in my lifetime. Children
will not know it, like a time before computers
or cars. You can show them a picture in a book
but already the whisper of its wings in the brush
cannot be reclaimed. I watch in the shadows
of the woods, the way that quail and fox give way
to coyote and crows, more hardy. I am also
giving way. Last night my hand shook as I tried
to write something down. I cannot remember
song lyrics sometimes, or the songs of the cicadas
and frogs of the woods in Tennessee, where I grew up.
Soon I too will be a memory, not an important extinction,
merely one in a sea of disappearances. More important:
the documentation of a wave of cherry blossoms,
cherry trees dead and buried, the song of the meadowlark.

 

Easter, With Tulips

On the ground in rivers their frilled petals
opening to the sun. We celebrate
in our own way the Easters of our childhood:
chocolate, deviled eggs with sweet pickles,
singing along to Jesus Christ Superstar.
The tulips open while the world is still
wrapped in rain. This Easter morning
opened with fog. We go to the fields,
still muddy, to watch an icy volcano appear
behind fields of red, pink, lemon yellow.
I’ve dyed my hair to match the tulips
offering their pink streaks to a foreboding sky.
I wander around, looking for Resurrection
in the garden. I talk to a gardener, who might
be a god. You never know. He’s got a friendly smile
and dirty boots. We will celebrate in a new way –
opening with no grudge against the cold damp,
waiting, patient, for someone to notice our offering.

More from Jeannine Hall Gailey