…between ancient roots

by Elizabeth Cunningham

outside doing something else I turn and see them

snowdrops thrusting through dead leaves beside a snowdrift

I drop everything, pick up a rake, clear their bed

the garden, an infant crowning from winter’s womb

labor intensive tenderness for this newborn

and then again in the dying time next autumn

in summer, weeding, making way for bloom and fruit

watering, watching as the whole green world matures

but now it is the end of the bare time, bone time

the end of resting inside or questing over crusty snow

to learn the secrets of hollow and rise, the ways

of water and stone, the groan of bare trees and ice

how I am pulled again into the seasons’ round

even as my own time winds down or up or both

is their wisdom in waning? I still want to dance

Elizabeth, your body spirals with the wind

watch the oak, learn to keep a wilder deeper time

look: daffoldil shoots rising between ancient roots

Note: I have been experimenting with the ghazal form since meeting poet JK McDowell and reading his collection Night Mystery Light. My primitive understanding is that the form has lines of 12 syllables, stanzas of three lines which must stand alone as a poem, and six stanzas total. There may be other rules of which I am not aware.

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