Thursday, March 12, 2020

Where the Thyme Blows

—Poems and Photos by Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA


I know a bank where the thyme blows
where oxlips grow with sweet musk,
roses with eglantine.*

Packets brought by my daughter from Stratford
held six varieties. Each morning while the sun

is still glossy on the horizon, I rush out to see
the few seed that came up in tough clay.

Winking Mary’s buds begin to ope their golden eyes.**

Foxgloves still low, struggle in Valley heat.
Cornflowers spring up like miniature sunflowers
loving the light. But it is the poppies: red-pink,

white-yellow, that rise the highest,
petals so translucent, the tributaries of veins

like fine parchment. They look so dry,
the texture like stiff tissue,
yet when I touch, they crumple in soft dew.

Each day, I take another photo, some have gone
limp while others open wide as sea flowers.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines.*

Now mid-July, the ox-eye daisies finished,
in their place leave a delicate pink pod
filled with ivory seeds.

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.***

It seems a hopeless endeavor,
as I observe doves endlessly making
nests, precious eggs raided by jays.

I guess it is a small thing that we have worked
so many decades to tame this soil.

Isn’t there something magical
about mixing water and clay? How rich
to have just a portion of Shakespeare’s garden

in Sacramento, how brave the doves who build
new nests in the radiant statue,
in the arms of St. Francis.

The eternal summer shall not fade.*** 

*A Midsummer Night’s Dream. II
Cymbeline. II, iii
The Winter’s Tale. XVIII


  ~ After a painted tile by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering

Painted toes, red stiletto heels,
        hunched roots a danger.

Coiffure of straggled sunflowers
bleaches white from indecision. 

A woman of two natures;
cheeks too pink, too blue.

A future crow appears; shaggy
feathers and crown, pretends
to be a person.

No glazed apples here,
       a later-day Eden.

Vegetation spirals—
purple vetch, lush eco-niche. 



Pure joy for a child of summer
bored with chores and early bike rides
to the bakery for warm rolls.

Better to venture among waving tassels
bouncing against legs,
sharp blades slicing ankles.

                         No caution,
“Don’t step on the grass,
    don’t pick flowers,
       watch out for new seedlings.”

No ownership, just pungent weeds,
one with square leaves and peach flowers.
For fragrance: anise and white clover.

Bees seemed to be elsewhere,
sweeter nectar in well-kept gardens.

Solitude, the only sound— drying pods
snapping in noon heat.

No artifacts except a rusted can, faded
candy wrapper,

        vacant shrubbery, a bent tree;
relics from a long forgotten homestead?

Always reluctant to leave,
I think about the box car children’s

   days of repose, old orange crate,
   broken cup, a train to everywhere.

Here, on the cement stoop, a bouquet of dill
reminds me to return home in time for dinner.


Today’s LittleNip:

A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in—what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.

―Victor Hugo,
Les Misérables


Our thanks to Jeanine Stevens today for her garden of poems and photos, capturing spring for us this morning!

Poetry in our area today includes Wellspring Women’s Writing Group at 11:30am at Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Av. in Sacramento. Then at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar features Josh Fernandez plus open mic, 1414 16th St., Sac. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Another note: some poetry events are being cancelled these days, due to the coronavirus. I'll do my best to keep up with cancellations, and let you know.


—Medusa, who is, indeed, a woman of two natures ~

 —Photo from her garden by Jeanine Stevens 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.