Sunday, February 22, 2009


I'm almost two seasons off with this poem, as it chiefly concerns the seeds and seeding of Fall. However, one could argue, if one were making excuses, that Fall's payoff is about to occur. All those seeds, etc., have been biding their time, waiting for the Earth, Sun, and even the Moon to do their gravitational dance and bring on just enough sunlight, warmth, and moisture. I also allude to Darwin indirectly by mentioning Evolution, and (as I'm sure you know) it's the 150th birthday of Chuck's Origin of Species, which I read in a graduate course that was dedicated to the year 1859 in England. We red a Dickens novel and an Eliot one and lots of poetry (including Meredith's Modern Love) and essays. My particular task was to "follow" the London Times month by month in 1859--on microfilm. Oy.

The course was taught by the late Elliot Gilbert, Kipling specialist (oddly enough) but also one of the first academics to take detective literature seriously. He published a nice anthology with critical commentary with Bowling Green State University. . . .

I also mention God in the poem. I didn't ever see a particular conflict between God and Evolution, but I'm probably missing something, as usual.


Out of the orange smoke
of California poppies materialize
thin sage-green scrolls, in which
tiny prophecies of next year's
poppies harden, darken. Lupine-
pods go black-grey, too. They bulge
and stiffen, bags of loot. Dill
supports its canopy of seeds with
spindly architecture. Hollow-boned
sparrows perch on these green, frail
stalks, gorge. They will defecate
seeds later, encasing them in
hot, effective nitrogen, part of
a plan Evolution stumbled on
way back when When didn't
exist yet. Earth backs off a bit
from Sun, tells a hemisphere
of vegetation to go to seed. A
deluge of cones, pods, hips, sacs,
fronds, and fruits surges across
one terrestrial moment in space,
predicting vegetation's recurrence
and able to deliver the goods, already
outlasting Winter yet to come.
Seeding is a vast, well organized,
ordinary miracle. Seeding is God
at God's most professional. It is a
counter-apocalypse of indetermination.
Fall concerns ferocious patience
and thinks several moves ahead.

first published in Sierra Journal 2006, Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
Post a Comment