May 30, 2011
What Elsie Gave Me
I must have been four years old, out for an armload of wildflowers
-daisies, mallow flowers, phlox.
Elsie and I sat on a rock to rest in the shade of the gnarled apple tree.
“Oh World, I cannot hold thee close enough!” cried Elsie, my Tante,
and on and on, poems by memory,
astounding my young ears with the bigness, the width of life beyond my ken.
Dickenson, Heine, Goethe, Millay,
-all fair game to Elsie’s keen mind and deep delight.
What is the world? She answered for me,
just a hint of what was to come, what could be, beyond the now.
I gazed at her above me,
and walked home with her, my arms full of flowers,
my little hand in hers.
And now, many years have passed.
My Tante is ninety-seven, but still, poems sprout from her lips,
and she, with her searching mind, evokes them from me as well.
“Prithee, let no bird call!”
We happen into a field, wild with flowers,
daisies, phlox, a wild quilt of color.
Thrice we return, picking armloads of wildflowers,
holding, holding, ever loving this life, unwilling to let go.
This divine charge we accepted so long ago
just to love this, just to live this,
eyes wide as daisy petals, enveloped in earthly scents,
knee-deep in colors,
just this most huge Yes.
Wildacres, North Carolina May 2011