Appalachian Spring Suite: a Poem

 1. Very Slowly.  Introduction of the characters, one by one, in a suffused light.

Open your kitchen curtains and look
out into the chilly morning.  A little
mist circles around the trunks of dogwoods,
rises up to the pink stars, fades to air.
There is color where you didn’t notice it before.
You step out.

2. Allegro.  A Sudden burst… A sentiment both elated and religious…

There is mud on your soles and honey in the air
tulip poplars like sentinels, like cathedrals, and
gilded arms of sun warming the bluebells and
over there shy corollas –  white, yellow, blood-red –
turn their eyes up to the light and so do you.
The force that wakens the world, that
courses up through root and vein, leaf-blade
and fingertip, cloud and cotyledon,
is our creator.

3. Moderato.  Scene of tenderness and passion.

Take off your shoes, feel the wet grass.
Remember this: an age ago, you watched your daughter
skip-twirl here to there, collecting stems,
leaves, tiny twigs.  A length of clematis trailed
from her fist and you suppressed a cry as she
plucked and sashayed her way around the yard. 
She sprawled in the grass on her belly, bare feet
tracing circles in the air, and there you were,
squatting down over the henbit, never satisfied.

When her plump feet appeared you looked
up to her solemn offering:  a crown
of green shoots and leaves, loosely woven.
Smiling, with arms outstretched, she presented
it to you, the keeper of this magical domain.

4. Quite Fast. Revivalist…Folksy feeling.

Now, from behind the woodshed, a squirrel darts
madly into an elderberry, disrupting the
slender branches. Its tail flicks like an angry
feather duster as it leaps now to the fence,
giving each crevice a frenzied inspection.
Last fall ten dozen walnuts were stashed
in places you’ve discovered gradually: nestled
in the brushpile, wedged in the forked trunk
of the lilac, resting (presumptuously) on the rack
of the barbecue.  Like a man who’s lost his keys,
the squirrel flits around in frustration and
voila! —  new walnut trees are born.
Forgetting and remembering:
the world needs both.

5. Subito Allegro.  Extremes of joy and fear and wonder.

You reach a hill draped with hemlocks hiding pockets
of dark air, recalling cold slopes of mountains,
cracked slabs of rock – monoliths! – a dizzying tilt
in the earth.  Some ancient fern, wind-frayed,
bedraggled, rises out of the duff and sends spores
across a narrow valley.  And through the valley runs
a silver braid, home to sunfish and bass, flowing
over honeycombs of limestone. 
Caves.  Secrets. 

The best way to reach this place is from right
where you stand.  Take that narrow path edged
with broken brick.

6. Very Slowly. Transition scene to music reminiscent of the introduction.

 Soon you will reach a clearing. 
Here, young grasses and wildflowers
nod in the breeze, and the way the light
hits is like a chord of music you heard
only once, like a promise whispered
in your ear by someone long gone.

Stay for a moment then move on.

7. Doppio Movimento.  Simple Gifts.

 the baby mantid that broke from its case
and the jay that snatched it
the daffodils you waited for and
the mud you tracked in
a chorus?
a climax?

The path through the glade, the trillium bud
the scoop of earth in your hand, warm and alive
the scattered petals, the soft thunder
the drowned worm, the fawn’s gaze, the spinning samaras
the grain of pollen that drifts from the top of the oak to the tip of your eyelash
an ending? 
a refrain?

8. Coda/Moderato.  Quiet and strong. A hushed prayerlike passage.
There is color where you didn’t notice it before.
It is time to go.  Mist circles around the trunks
of dogwoods, rises up to the pink stars,
fades to air.

10 thoughts on “Appalachian Spring Suite: a Poem

    • Thank you, Donna! Appalachian Spring is a piece of music that has inspired me for many years, and especially now that I am a gardener it resonates even more. Thanks for reading…it’s kind of a lot for a blog post!

  1. This is beautiful! I’d love to add photos to the words and reblog giving your blog original credit. Or would you like to collaborate on something? No matter what you decide, thank you for an inspiring read! Best to you!

  2. Beautiful, perhaps because I’ve just reread it, yours puts me in mind of the Inaugural Poem, with your view of the day and memories of days past.
    One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
    peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
    of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
    across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
    One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
    told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

  3. Your poem inspired me to look for a recording so I could relate your words to the music. Lovely stuff. OMG, she gardens, she’s funny, she teaches AND she writes great poetry. Just what else is in your bag of tricks Ms Gray?

    • That’s about it, Catherine. I also just took up sewing, but I don’t expect great success there. I just messed up a big curtain project because I couldn’t seem to figure out what half of 5 1/2 was…and cut an expensive piece of fabric in the wrong place. D’oh! Thanks for your comment, though. I always feel really exposed when I post a piece of poetry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s