Sunday, April 21, 2013


The first day that shines  
like spring
I walk until I fear
I might get lost
then turn back
on a beeline to the big pine

where sounds of birds
drive from my head
our morning fight —

the same one
we always have
about nothing
then afterward

I rake the garden,
        leaves black, sodden, trapped,
        tines of the rake awkwardly
        clawing more fence than leaves

blown to this border every autumn,
buried under every
snow after snow,
pressed until they hold so tight
to the ground

that when I scrape them free
the bare dirt releases gasps
of bright grass as if
for every birth a death
must begin the greatest joy


  1. i read this after standing at the stove top stirring the bland noodles in the face of the roiling pot, two/three days after blessed being (including today too, perhaps tomorrow) thinking, i am so sad, so desperately infinitely sad, knowing that i will always be plunged into sadness so that i might fly at the tip of joy's wing again:))))


    1. It has not been easy for me to accept this, Erin, the rhythm of sadness and joy. But it is infinitely better than simply being plunged into sadness without the tip of joy's wing.

      On we go.

      With love.

  2. It is an act of kindness to say to the perennials, here let me give you some space, let me free you from darkness, here is the light

    1. Yes. And then in partnership they kindly give us light in return.

  3. I read “The first day that shines like spring…” that is good. I am pleased for you. I was just reading the blog of a friend in Minnesota and she was still under snow.

    We do not have a garden, we have a small rain forest, so the leaves do not get raked. But we have planters, and do you know that yesterday when I went outside with my husband to look to clean the pots, we saw some petunias in full bloom? They are annual plants here, and not supposed to flower again – but since we had no winter, I guess they still think it is 2012… I wish I had a poetic mind, as this would be a good theme.

    1. Thank you for sharing the joy of our welcome spring.

      These anomalies, how long will we wonder at them? I think for the rest of my days I will. Climate change is happening so drastically. And yet I guess the plants and animals do not wonder, they simply bloom and grow, or wither and wrestle.

  4. with the exception of the morning fight, this is uncannily like my weekend- of a walk and beeline, of raking and the right, ripe smell of the earth and the coming to terms (for the day) of the birth making death making birth nature of things

    nicely worded here, Ruth,


    1. That's amazing, Wendy. And I'm glad there was no morning fight for you. :-) Thankfully our "always" fight comes only rarely nowadays. We have been married 35 years this month, and we get better and better at communicating, though we are opposites in many ways.

  5. Wonderful, Ruth! I related to every aspect of this poem, especially to the final observation that "for every birth a death must begin the great joy." There is always the reluctance, however, to pay the heavy toll required for new birth. Yet, we all know from experience that the interplay of birth and death is the very music of life, that one cannot exist without the other.

    1. Thank you for the affirming comments, George.

      Unfortunately, I grew up in a family where problems and conflicts (the small deaths that all families encounter) were hushed or covered up as quickly as possible. It's a tricky thing to teach these things to children, but I think we can do it carefully, mindfully. And when we've grieved together, even in small ways, our joy is deeper.

  6. I have had to read and re-read this one line several times, Ruth: for every birth a death must begin the great joy. I keep wanting to change it "to every death a birth must begin the great joy." It's been a good exercise to switch my thoughts around.

    1. I am changing my head around over this constantly, it seems, Boots.

  7. Hi Ruth, long time, trust you're well and all your loved ones... have enjoyed reading this gem of a poem, which inspires me to think of a parallel, without death there won't be resurrection. But of course, as always, you speak of it ever so gently... "for every birth a death/must begin the greatest joy" Thank you for the thought.

    1. It's good to see you, Arti! We are very well, I am very well. I don't stray far from home any more in the blog world, and because of that I miss visiting with you. I just don't have the old energy I once had for this. But I still want to write, and I love seeing you.

  8. Hello Ruth,

    until you visited recently I assumed you were no longer interested in having my comments. I have resumed gardening, in a small way to start, but many jobs are now urgent and there’ll be little time to clothe them in poetry to make them less onerous. But gardening is such a life-affirming task, merely being out there, hands encrusted with good honest dirt, aching knees and the signs of newly-awakening beauty in front of me, why would I need poetry as well. Except, of course, I do, so your poem today is making my visit sweet and soul-warming.

    1. Hello, Friko! I don't get out and about much any more, I've grown much more quiet and homebound in the blog world. But that is not to say that I am not interested in having your comments! Perhaps you noted my absence from your blog, but in truth I visit very little anywhere now. It isn't from lack of affection and interest; it is simply from lack of that same energy I once had so much of. I dropped by your place recently because I wanted to see what was happening in your gardening world, which you do beautifully.


All responses are welcome.