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Joan Mazza

April Monday

 

Wood ducks dabble in the pond

and fly to some other waterway

without a cat or dog or someone

at the window, who moves

in threatening ways.

I point a telephoto lens,

no gun, but they’re gone.

 

Lotus pads should be rising

from the black water,

straightening their curled leaves

flat on the surface— first signs

of pink blossoms for June.

Nothing. Last year, pads and blooms

turned brown in patches,

 

warned of the end of what has been

an annual delight. An invasive species

departed? Do I let it go and wait,

see what evolves? Herons might discover

a better view, bluegill and catfish

easier to catch.

 

Last night, an ambulance took

my neighbor. She can’t stand

on her feet. Not yet sixty, legally blind,

husband depressed though he’s still

witnessing for Jehovah.

 

Oak and beech leafing out, dogwood

in full bloom. Lilacs and mowed grass

scent air too still this morning,

as if holding its breath for bad news.

 

An hour’s travel to a friend to meet

her new puppy. I tell myself, Drive on.

Replacement’s everywhere.

 

 

Limitless

 

They flew in flocks three hundred miles long,

a mile wide, darkening the sky for hours,

eclipsing the sun. Over three billion

 

Passenger Pigeons together. Audubon said

they passed for three days. So many, they

perched on each other’s backs. Trees

were shaken by a living wind.

 

Commercial hunters netted and shot them,

easy meat for servants and slaves, used as feed

to fatten hogs. Hunted to extinction, habitat

 

of chestnuts and oak acorns deforested.

One man bragged he’d killed a million. So

many. That value: a million dollars today.

Without limits, dumb as dodos we take all.

 

Fossils stretch back to the Pleistocene.

As today, conservationists ignored.

1914, the last pigeon, named Martha,

died at the Cincinnati Zoo.

 

Larger than a mourning dove, dusky blue, rose-

breasted, or wine red. So many. It seemed

they would be here forever— prolific,

beautiful, delicious.

 

 

Woodland Understory

 

Step from bright sunshine of the gravel drive

into the deep shade of oaks: red, white, southern,

and sweet gum, hickory, beech, pine. Trees

grow and die, fall into each other, sustain

beetles, spiders, and wild mushrooms.

 

Understory of wild azalea, fiddlehead ferns,

vetch, and fungi thrust up from the thick

and spongy leaf mat. Walk slowly. Stop often.

Don’t jog or count your steps. Turn off

your phone, iPod, and to-do list.

 

Every view tells more than one story.

Large stumps sprout trees. They tell when

the land was last clear-cut. Note where

the terrain dips and rises, where it floods

and dries again. See the tracks of those

who’ve passed this way— raccoon, deer,

squirrels, martins. Flocks of grackles.

 

Indian pipes, ghostlike in their white

translucency, poke up in an open patch

of ground, and bright orange chanterelles

grow along a shady bank. On dead trees,

still standing, see where pileated, downy,

and hairy woodpeckers have drilled.

 

Listen. You might hear them now between

the calls of two hawks in conversation. Move

slowly. The flash of pale fur is a white-tailed

deer, tail up as it flees. Stop. Inhale this mix

of fragrances unique to this place and season.

The architecture of these shafts of light

will never be the same. Nor you.

 

 

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, writing coach and seminar leader. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/ Penguin/ Putnam), her work has appeared in Cider Press Review, Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Permafrost, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Writer’s Digest, Emerge Literary Journal, the minnesota review, Personal Journaling, and Playgirl. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art. www.JoanMazza.com