The Meadow || Mary Buchinger

Sunlight spirals out from a confusion
of tag elder crowding the edges of this narrow
expanse, a slow succession of species
in the landscape—changes, changes—
is this renewal?

In the felt heat of midday, dragonflies
swim light, splash in its waves
Sunk light begets, in the bed
of me, exact frequencies of the meadow

The entire meadow—grasses dipped
in gold—spins like a rolled-
open tunnel, my eyes sweep
its sides, fanning photonic fire

Behind me a small vernal pool
recedes in August death, a nerve
of babyskin tadpoles floats
tardily in the thick brew
suspended in half-wonder

Insects, innumerable, opulent

Parting joe-pye weed
I wade through, switchgrass
hoping against arrival, sun lacquers
my shoulders and freckling hands
heat festers down to decay
and my spidery self opens


In the black pool, a soggy branch springs
when its sunning turtle clambers off—
spectacle of plated light!—new
mud beneath its hooked green
legs bubbles, bubbles, I

imagine against my skin—
skin, its thunderbolts of enzymes
separating physical selves, frogs,
turtles, me, what is felt

Do they too smell this dry
juniper I crush between fingers,
its thin, gymnastic branches
releasing the gin of the waxy blue
I sip its air to intuit
what is essence and what I
can do without, so chorded
so exacting my neediness
and hunger, nuclei buzzing all over


I’m telling you the meadow is a metaphor
for dying, whereas for the light
the dragonfly itself is keeper


The meadow opens its mouth of green
and I am drawn to its activity

My soul of contention calms
in this beauty and buzz

And yet, coursing, coursing between
seeing and knowing, between sought and held
a rill of uneasy infinitude

The meadow explains this truth
I rest on the stone bench to listen


Mudhole at my back jumps to life
with a quantity of dying, troubled air
I invite inside, inhaling

Here, with a white surrender, light
is sentient, this light in the skin of the meadow
complicated by a thousand daily things

Each blade, singing

In these vibrations between meadow
and light, I plumb balance


Phosphorescence, abundance, senescence

A slit in my universe and suddenness
sweeps in, dusk, and my surprise
is new again—another end


I aim for union with meadow
and light, with its opening and closing, its lesson
will be absolute and consequential

Succession means pioneers
make way for what’s to come

The alders and aspen will win this meadow
ready it for the oaks and beeches
to follow. Stones will assemble with solemn
intent. The unbearable fervor of June
will have been the cost of August

Dragonfly, dragonfly, dragonfly

This was originally published in Fall 2017 edition of The Helix.


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