And now, two poems from Steven Withrow's All Out of Doors:
Rescuing a Sugar Maple
by Steven Withrow
“You’ve got creeping rot and wood blight
choking off the lower leaders,”
he offers, chipping white fungus
from dried bark with a golf pencil,
“but good news is, the trunk’s still whole.”
I’d read about dieback, sunscald,
and other scourges of young trees,
of parasites that tatter leaves
or cleave deep roots, but the problem,
he assures me, is with the soil.
“Your lawn’s a touch too alkaline
for healthy growth. These maples here
like a better acid balance.”
All right, I think, it’s chemical,
and something can be done at least.
He bends and spears a mushroom cap
with a graphite point, and he frowns
at me as though I’d drowned a prize
orchid: “When’s the last time you limed,
or tilled and reseeded all this?”
I confess to him we’ve been lax
in stewarding our lot,
preferring the milder science
(admittedly more of an art)
He shrugs and starts to mark his pad—
a figure with a dollar sign.
“Art,” he says, and waits a moment
before handing over the bill,
“is crabgrass, weeds, and dead shade trees.”
by Steven Withrow
In the very undog places of the house,
Those uncat spots unfit for a layabout mouse,
You find a hidden hitch that once dropped loose
From a model switching yard—a red caboose
That must have come uncoupled from its coach—
And if you hope to hold it, don’t approach
Too eagerly, or if you do, pretend
You’re merely kneeling there snooping for a friend.
In the very unbed places where you sleep,
Those still unpillowed spaces where you keep
Your treasure trove of marbles underneath
A cardboard box that guards your baby teeth,
What clovers you unearth on second look!
Or tucked in a book atop another book—
A clockwork heart—and part of you unthinks
The thing that undid the Riddle of the Sphinx.
Copyright 2012, all rights reserved. Posted with permission of the poet.
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