The Lintel Stone

No vestige of a cabin
remains where the lintel stone
lies anchored to the prairie
by a tangle of coneflowers.
No joists or tenons
but just this
tracery of fossils chained through
lichened limestone.
In borings where a bolt might’ve been
the black widow rolls her eggs
hope and death a red hourglass
ticking in the darkness.

By Pat Anthony

purple coneflowers at twilight on wah'kon-tah prairie.

To read more of Pat Anthony’s poems please visit middlecreekcurrents.

Photo of purple coneflowers at twilight on Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie by Tommy Brison

For The Sake of Pines

I have always loved pine trees. Ever since I was a child, the sight of pines has been a constant presence in my neighborhood, their evanescent green constant through the changing seasons. In my area of Oklahoma, pine trees are not a native species, but my family’s next door neighbor planted pine saplings over fifty years ago and they were giants in my childhood.

I would go across the street and pick up needles and pinecones, exotic oddities on our block filled with soft wood, enjoying the smooth feel of the needles and the rough texture of the cones. The contrast between the two made me love pines even more as I grew up, and as an adult I longed to have pine trees in my own yard. But since I now live in a dry West Fort Worth area, that is not possible.

father and young sun looking at tree in sunsetYears have passed since I was a child, and my parents’ neighbors who owned the lot died long ago. My parents now own the lot, and when my twin sons and I come to visit, we often go that that yard to explore and play in the shade of the pines. Last weekend while my sons played, my son Ivan pointed at the pine needles of a low-lying limb and asked “What is that Daddy?”

I plucked a clump of needles and showed them to him. “These are pine needles. See how green they are. Touch them and feel their smoothness.” My three and a half year old son touched the smoothed needles and laughed, his smile flashing like the sun in a darkened room. I playfully ruffled his hair as he soon went off to play something else.

As I watched him and my other son Aden play with fallen twigs and pinecones, I hoped that they would remember this time, this golden memory they shared with me. I want them to remember that their father shared with them his love for pines, and I hope they share the same love as me. Seeing them run and play chase in the tree-filled lot, I felt the years pass, my mind flashing back to when I was a child and did the same thing.

A lot has changed since I was a boy, but my love of nature still holds true. I can only hope this simple love can be cherished by others and pass that legacy on. For that I believe it will happen.

This is an article in my Subdivision Journal series. I am trying to use mindfulness to observe nature in my neighborhood. Other articles in the series:
Signs of Decay, Signs of Life
Meeting With Magpies
The Tree Blossoms
The Dead Bird
A Budding Tree
An Encounter With a Falcon
The Carrying of Sounds
The View from My Window

Author PhotoCarl Wade Thompson is a poet, essayist, and the graduate writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. He has published poetry and memoir essays in The Mayo Review, The Concho River Review, One in Four, Anak Sastra, The Galway Review, The Blue Collar Review, Piker Press, The Eunoia Review, Blue Minaret, Nebo Literary Magazine, Alphelion Literary Webzine, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. His poems explore the link between the urban and the rural.

Photo of father and son by Jozef Polc

Synthesis Of Light

The way Sabrina (almost six-years-old) lays on her bed
and plays her iPad for half an hour. Like the way an owl
can turn his head totally around since he/she has no eye
ligaments or nerves to keep the eyes moving without
the head. Sabrina loves playing dolls with me, her father,
and she has a doll house that we use sometimes.
Mainly we talk, as if plants have ears, and I heard
they do, by means of flowers. Our talking among flowers
it is best to do so directly, and their brighter flowers
will improve the garden.

The mountains hold everything providing light,
whether it be clear or dark—stars whisper to
the moon, like when you talk to me, and shine
right back to us, up on the mountain top,
arriving at six a.m. The sun rises over the edge
of the mountain before its full body is seen.
As its body illustrates pops from the sun’s
surface and day-lilies outside the coffeehouse,
we will drink dark roast decaf and talk to each
other like a window opening and no one disturbs
the hush of the window opening but a crowd
is heard in the background. I want to hold
your hand and do so. I want to toss your hair
with love twirls and tell everything in silence
since we first started dating and married not
yet whole in ourselves. It takes time to grow,
and the sunlight illustrates through those
day-lilies ripening outside as we stare out
the window until we rise, get another cup,
and go out and trust in the day ahead to guide
and shape us into who we want us to be.

There is nothing
I will not do to keep
light on your face
until the sun
deepens its fade
into stars
and moon of eve,
and then we will
both grow even
then, even any
-time. I just want
you loved by me
to see our dreams
coming true
as day-lilies held,
squeezed tight,
and planted even more
due to the sun
and dark at night
with the sun again
in the a.m. preparing
its heat and day-lilies
opening once the light
turns to both itself
and heat
for the afternoon
calling lemonade
to quench
our thirst appearing
as the first
light of morning.

When are you going to the peach tree
again? Like a movie we’ve seen numerous
times because of comedy, lucidness,
and delight in philosophy? I just see you
with an arm around me, which doesn’t
occur often, but does when I need a hug,
and then a couple of minutes is all outstanding.
Under the peach tree you sit so the sunlight
doesn’t pinch your eyes closed, and you
take a bite of a peach that fell and you
had to stretch to catch it. Its own
hunger fills your body, an enormous
task to do so by itself, not because
of you but the peach having to work
through photosynthesis, and the juice
slushes down your skin into your hand
under chin until you sleep in the heat
of afternoon, and I sit and dream
right next to you.

After peaches picked from the trees and taken home,
Grandpa makes the best homemade ice cream ever
tasted, even now with specialty ice cream places around
town that could fill streets if not so separated, and I
find you in a dream eating that ice cream before death
rings true to my Grandpa, and the doctors said prepare
for seven more years when the newly formed arteries
and vesicles will run themselves out. Grandma soon
moves to a nursing home after a car crash,
not resembling my own low blood sugar diabetic ones,
and lives as long as her sister did, ten years in the home,
and then the call from the home told my Dad and we
both went out to see her lying in her bed with her eyes
closed and a smile upon her face; she hasn’t looked
this good in ten years, the dementia had left her body
as did her spirit, into heaven, and finally met her love,
Grandpa, over fifteen years apart. I dreamt they simply
walked in parks or sat on chairs and fished, and maybe
even went camping in the fall before it cleared. The light
remained on them both without having to do a thing.
And life seemed to last a blink of a moment looking
back and seeing them together for all the years,
and even past their moving to St. Louis from
Chillicothe after their 50th wedding anniversary.

In the phosphorescent morning, as the squirrels
and birds fly to catch a new fresh breath tasting
of the clouds and of fog, a new trip to the western
part of the U.S., and all I need is your breath
to wake me, like the boat that offers its own wake
where water skiers pass into and out of that wake,
and nothing can at this high tide hour. At the lake
there are some smaller mountains, and I’ve hiked
some but not many or often. I’ve never really looked
into the trail situation. I hiked when I went to school
in Flagstaff, sometimes everyday in summer,
but weekends during school hours. It will be great
when we both and Sabrina get to go out there
and see the vastness that awaits. Please let us
have fun on the vortexes too! It’s really windy there.
It’s really windy on the vortex due to the equilibrium
that exists on them. Their trying to continue
feeling from one day to the next, like with meditation.
It’s in the light I see you swimming back at the dock.
I want to be there with you when we otherwise
could be somewhere else doing something else.
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about hiking all I
have done in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon
as it’s something needing the experience
to understand. I haven’t really been able to find
the words to explain the experience; it’s like
running backward and having people asking
what it’s like, and there’s no answer to give.
In the calmness of the night language can
provide what’s necessary to continue to try
and distill the answers about all the hiking,
and that’s the best I can really do.

Only when I write do I shine forth enough beauty…
whether here or not, I’d like to think I do for you.

By Bradley Bates

father and daughter silhouettes at sunset

Photo Copyright: BlueOrange Studio

While Reading Teale’s North with the Spring

In the wild strawberries, a male box turtle
with fierce red eyes hisses against the booted
intrusion as killdeer vie for invisibility and a
snail slowly traverses a blade of grass.

Bloom hangs heavy on the bois d’arc and
cinquefoils shake yellow petaled heads. Night
crawlers flooded out from last night’s rain
still snake through the deer trodden mud
toward a new home beyond the drying wind.
First pasture roses open slowly like a child’s
sticky fist and pale spider worts nod on tall
stems to mark this middle of May.

Teale knew that to chart the vagaries of land
meant daily pilgrimage, a profound need
larger than desire or wish. Beyond seeing,
he knew the squelching boot, the chill
of rain damp wind, the torrent and deluge
and how they lift the spirit to soaring
crescendo and decrescendo like the songs
of dueling mockingbirds, or the flare of
orange oriole across the eastern timber.

How upon retiring, one could chew the lot
of it like rabbits in sweet clover, ruminating
over notes and notions, knowing there will be
another day to walk through and compare to
the ones gone, anticipate the ones to come.

By Pat Anthony

North With Spring Book Cover

To read more of Pat Anthony’s poems please visit middlecreekcurrents.

Juniper Tree, Arches National Monument, Utah

to a photograph by Eliot Porter

We humans arrange time to continue to emerge,
each second a new chance to leave behind
the ghost of was, the disappointment,
the salmon that leaped away. We’re not
like rocks, not like the blue-faced rock,
not like the marble cliff or granite boulder.
Their unmoving’s silent, yet we think they tell us
something. We visit them, some of us drive
speeding vehicles through miles of time
and parts of our lives to reach places where
we might hear the rocks. Their immensity
makes us small, insignificant, makes
our need to move seem unreal. We’re
no longer nervous. We give in to tiredness,
we lean on the hard, rain-stained surface.
When night comes, we dream of being lizard,
or juniper tree so many years old half the foliage
is dead and the rest hangs on, minute by minute,
a single strand of matter stubbornly living
in the crack of the rock.

By Grace Marie Grafton

Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Cover for Whimsey, Reticence & LaudAmazon’s site. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

The Eliot Porter photograph may be viewed here.