She sighs and groans,
raising tall goosebumps
on the strong arms
of her loyal congregation
listening along the riverbanks.
Far below, her companion ebb tide
rushes directly outward
right on predictable schedule
toward the sea.
Licked by the fiery flames of sunrise
her chiseled exposed edges melt,
dripping ever so slowly,
reverting again to a wall of swirling water
powerfully rushing toward the sea.
Do not despair my frigid Queen,
I will return to support and raise you
upward again another day,
whispers her loyal playmate,
Ebb Tide of the
mighty Kennebec River.
Beyond my bedroom window
a crescent hammock appears
slung under a trillion twinkling stars
appearing like glitter scattered
across a velvety coal black sky,
Saturn and Venus shine
like lanterns on dual nightstands.
The frigid Queen
groans and wails
in the frozen air
above her glassine surface,
undulating, rolling toward the shore,
tall thin shadows create
dark fingers, tucking the
downy fluff of snow
around the fauna
hibernating inside the brush.
I lay snuggled safely inside
my own down cover,
atop the patchwork wool quilt
Gramie sewed with loving
arthritic hands. Wandering mind
of my ten-year-old self
conjures river groans emitting
from the underwater monsters
I will face on the next crossing
of the Kennebec River.
Fall sunshine bleaches
purple fountain grass to golden
as the first heavy glistening flakes
begin to cover with layers of snow
creating a silky smooth icing,
like ganache frosting
on a wedding cake,
sealing raised organic beds
Delighted to have the
long-coveted purple fountain grass
planted on a sweaty fall day,
today’s surprise reveals tall
golden mounds covered with snow
like a row of hobbit huts built along
the very edge of the lawn,
providing refuge for hungry birds
seeking safety and shelter
in the quickly passing snow squall.
Crisp, rusty oak leaves
filter down from the highest treetops
resting askew, atop the frosty white covering
until warm sunshine bakes them down,
just below the flat surface of
yesterday’s snowfall where
a blustery wind blows them away,
leaving only an imprint of fall.
A sprinkling of raindrops taps
against thick layers of copper leaves,
crunchy remnants of last fall,
resting now on the forest floor below,
warming enough to awaken
green shoots of spring hidden beneath.
A sweet choir of avian harmony
echoes through dormant oak branches,
along mossy, ice-encrusted granite banks
of a brisk spring stream,
their Queen, the Kennebec River.
Blood red gauzy fog
filters through fall leaves
lately turned crimson on tall maples
standing at attention,
likewise, old soldiers donned
in crisp red jackets,
between my deck and
the Kennebec riverside.
Chrysanthemums, newly blossomed,
glow as brightly as a bouquet
of shiny copper pennies
nodding toward the warmth
of the rising sun.
FOG and OLD SOL
Trillions of stars glimmer across
the vast onyx sky
anticipating the flash of dawn.
Silvery fog begins to ooze along the river
initially laying low, advancing up
through the forest near sturdy roots
of stately ancient oaks.
Wild forest blossoms lift tiny
delicate faces upward
freshening in the morning dew.
Rising higher still, brushy brittle branches
extend, inviting the fogs ever-encroaching
silky scarf, thickening with dew,
creeping higher still, approaching the house.
The sun at last emerges,
barely above the glassine surface
of the Kennebec River,
projecting a silver-grey neon glow
illuminating my bedroom with warmth.
Briefly smothering the forest,
dissipating fog recedes,
quickly swallowed up
by the plump, brilliant face of Old Sol.
HALLOWEEN DAY – 2017
Daylight at last,
visibility of the world
beyond my bedroom glass doors.
In the darkness of night, I awaken
to sounds of sideways driving rain
and howling, wild whipping wind
rattled the vinyl siding of the house.
Thunderous foundation-shaking thuds,
branches cracking, wailing, moaning
as mighty trees fell. Earthy roots exposed,
acorns hitting glass like popcorn,
leaves suddenly shredded into chips
plastering tight against window panes.
A matrix of “spider web” branches
covers the ground, acorn “victims,”
caught beneath. Cavernous
holes in the earth
where trees once grew,
now peeled back
revealing tangled and matted roots.
Dawn arrives, there is stillness
in the air at last,
raging turbulence quieted,
Mother Nature in mourning
for the loss of her precious trees,
stately children of her forest
on the Kennebec.
Generators hummed through the night
in landlocked neighborhoods
where chainsaws make wood chips
of mighty trees during daylight hours.
Hunters scour the once-thick forest,
tripping over downed branches
and dangling roots
ripped from the earth.
Deer, moose and small animals
begin to sniff the wind
searching for new
and safer hiding spots.
Hunter orange mingles
with thick layers of yellow, orange,
red and chocolate brown leaves,
blown from their tethers
off strong tree branches
in the micro-bursts that blew
from one town across the Kennebec
STAINED GLASS “TREE OF LIFE” – a FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT design
Autumn scene photo by T. BLEN PARKER
Crews arrived through early river fog by ferry,
decades after tender green shoots burst forth
below the old stonewalls. Gathered many
years ago by industrious squirrels, acorns
and pine cones grew, spared from the flames
that charred Swan Island in 1750.
In 2018, a weary late afternoon crew of
brush monkeys gathers on the resting side
of an all-morning island swamp out.
Sating thirst, they swiped salty brows, swatted
handfuls of black flies, deer flies,
and ravenous, hardy marine mosquitoes.
Dozens of deer ticks hopped on to celebrate
by biting bare flesh.
Bullbuck Bob bellers instructions to his
“power up the bulldozers, cut out those cat roads,
time is money!”
In the wake of the CTL harvester, Clem
the clambunk operator waits
to drag out full tree-length logs.
Halloween storm 2017 left swaths of blown down
trees from the Dresden side of the Kennebec River
across Swan Island, over Merrymeeting Bay
onto Richmond and Bowdoinham shores.
Dozens of cold decks piled and waiting their turn
to float over the Kennebec on a tug-powered barge,
transporting neatly balanced logs on double
trailers, to be hauled over the curvy, hilly
roads of Maine; final destinations:
wood products manufactories,
and paper mills.
Witnessing a caravan of 18-wheelers hauling
massive full logs, once healthy trees, I ponder:
what events they witnessed,
what stormy or drought weather withstood,
what challenges endured, before
the fateful storm that ripped their sturdy roots
from centuries-long life on the historic island.
If only to hold a thick slice,
able to count the rings
revealing hidden stories
of just a single once-stately
Swan Island tree!
STAINED GLASS “TREE OF LIFE” by T. BLEN PARKER 2019
Responding to a cool drizzle,
a sage quintet of pale, slender,
proud birches stand arrow-straight,
exposing raw under-layers
of younger, virgin skin.
Silky fog rises
from a blanket of downy flakes
fallen deep at their feet.
creating a satiny sheen,
the sparkly illumination
of five sisterlings,
like the spotlight focused
at their coming-out party.
Will they go unnoticed?
Who will hesitate in passing
for just this moment,
exploring endless possibilities,
breathing slowly, observing,
evolving, appreciating the mystery
of these regal ladies?
Spring produces fresh green leaves
the ladies will wear as stylish hats,
until the fall, when green turns to
yellow and ombre,
like the fur and bright feathers
who walk wooded paths
through the forest.
The artist senses
the perfect time to reveal
his heart on canvas, typically
when it becomes so palpable
he can no longer harbor or
contain it within.
The author is unable
to resist passionately describing
the priceless art, sharing with
even those without sight,
or those incapable of perceiving
what she sees with her heart.
SEASONS OF MAINE
Spring snow melts,
thick-soled winter boots
and ice-crusted mittens drip
in front of a roaring woodstove.
Muddy wheel ruts dry, cracking
in the warm sunshine.
Swarms of blackflies arrive
in tandem with tree frogs who
begin to sing in stereo at dusk.
Gardens planted early
promise bushels of produce,
defying an inevitable late frost
predicting a short summer
growing season in Maine.
Summer arrives to sit at
picnic tables at backyard BBQ’s,
well-attended Downeast Lobster-Paluzzas,
trips northward “upta” camp,
deep-sea fishing excursions,
river kayaking, whitewater rafting
on rocky, crystal clear rushing streams,
ski jetting at the lake or saltwater
sailing, yachting, water skiing
and swimming at the beach.
Fourth of July family celebrations
produce hours of colorful
bursts of fireworks high
into the hot summer night.
Labor Day holiday sends tourists
hastily heading southward,
bidding farewell to
Miles the Moose and
D. Claude Lobster
as they pass through the Kittery toll booth,
en route to the metropolitan
chaos they call home.
The dark, damp walls
of blue-black melancholy
begin to set in, as real as
of an early frost.
Today’s sunrise announces
the showy debut of colorful leaves
as the curtain of fog rises
on the first crisp morning
of another fall season in Maine.
Hardy tourists linger for
the perfect snapshot, framed
for their desk back at the office
on the 21st floor in the city.
Bright yellow school buses
round up chatting children
dressed in trendy school duds
new to them, from older sisters
and brothers hand-me-downs.
Students nervously wait until dawn
in rural driveways dotting
the Maine countryside.
Freshly painted classrooms, and
shiny polished floors reflect
images of anxious children
thundering through hallways,
en route to the first classes of fall.
Distracted by thoughts
of cotton candy or fried dough
sprinkled with powdered sugar,
consumed while walking past
fair ‘barkers’ and ring toss games
at traditional county fairs across the state.
Preoccupied with thoughts of oxen
straining in a dusty pulling ring,
dreaming of blue ribbon
prized pigs, giant pumpkins,
penny scrambles or this years’
fair queen contest, each student
attempts to be attentive
during the first weeks of history,
algebra or English classes.
Visitors ‘from away’ can hardly envision
how swiftly seasons pass in Maine
before the first pristine,
intricate snowflake designs
cover doorsteps, prompting
silver Yankee shovels
to dip and lift, dip and lift
load after load of the heavy white stuff.
Darkness falls quickly,
shorter days dictate residents
condense workdays, inviting snowplows
to clear roads for safe travel long into the night.
Residents maximize efforts
to accomplish necessary daily tasks.
Winter has arrived in Maine.
Sweltering August day, following Gramie’s path
through tall steamy field grass, plucking
perfect pods, newly bursting with
faerie hair stars, weighted only by their
oval brown seed. The sky above fills with
hundreds of feather-light starbursts
emerge as each pod bursts open,
striped worms take flight
as monarch butterflies
all a mesmerizing sight.
Gently picked pods fill her canvas sack,
destined for more days of drying
out on a hot sunporch. Later in fall, with
her patient direction, permission
to be wild and creative, pods
become magical ornaments for
holiday trees. Paint, beads, glitter,
seeds, ribbons, brightly colored yarn,
sequins, patience all invested.
Dioramas display miniature deer
romping through cotton snow,
dried fern trees, painted skies,
adorning the common milkweed pods
repurposed into treasured memories
for generations to ponder.
Burning scarlet rays of morning sun
pulse through layers of chiffon fog
revealing crystal rainbow prisms,
dewdrops clinging to leaf tips,
until they slowly evaporate.
Feathery tender ferns unfurl
under the warmth of ole sol,
magically awakening dozens of
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
cocoons suddenly hatching.
In a gentle swirl, an upward funnel
of virgin butterflies releases
into the air reaching the tallest treetops
only to disappear, guided by instinct
to seek the nectar of life.
A SECRET KISS
When the onyx sky transforms
brilliant midnight sparkles
to a spectacular array of gold,
blood orange, crimson and purple dawn,
Swango Princess blows
a secret morning kiss
through a wall of wispy river fog
to Big Chief, the proud leader
of Abenaki, admiring her
from a bed of dewy ferns
across the Kennebec River.
SNOWSTORM IN THE FOREST
A crystal white blanket
surrounds sturdy roots
hidden deep below the forest floor
during the long winter in Maine.
Dormant oaks and maples, alive with
grey squirrels scrambling
to deliver fat cheeks filled
with coveted acorns
to fill their midwinter pantry.
Clever raccoons climb tall oaks,
clinging to leafless branches
high above the ground.
Prickly fat porcupines gnaw
away at maple or birch bark
searching for insects
to snack on at midnight.
Stately oaks stand straight,
stiff soldiers sending tall shadows
across a marshmallow-y coverlet
blanketing the forest floor
puffed twice their size,
hibernate under heavy coats
of white icing, providing refuge
like condo’s for families
of chattering songbirds.
Branches bow down in reverence
to the mighty passing storm.
Battered by house-sized
chunks of ice — Kennebec shores
appear smooth and glassy
as if shrink-wrapped for the winter
like hibernating yachts at the marina.