The wheel of the year

There is sleep in the air,
rustling leaves begin to fall,
the sagging eyelids of the season.
Each day a crispness awakens,
it heralds other subtle changes,
rest for the land, flowers, lakes.
The cleansing purgatory of snow
gathers its chemistry in the north.
The gentle breeze whispers: “Quiet now,”
the hush is Mother Nature’s cool touch
upon the frantic fevered cheek of summer.
Human hearts yearn for this time,
they cling to past ancient old ways,
a quickening yearning for the hearth,
harvested fields, ducks on the fly.
Goddesses lurk in the shadows,
Modron and Olwen lean into their work,
shouldering, turning the wheel of the year.
Sages know only spring and autumn hold love,
the dawn and twilight of seasons,
the spiritual recharging of all life.
Smoke rises from a distant chimney,
it has comfort in its languid message,
a temple incense carrying prayers.
In the living is the solitary knowledge
that with the ending of the year awaits
creation’s glorious beginnings,
the only promise winter gives up.

©2015, Donald Harbour

Summer’s symphony

All day, red nosed cicadas have been raucous,
in search of a mate,  playing cicada love songs.
As twilight descends, they put away their bagpipes,
silently tuning their instruments in the dark.
With dawn, a breeze rustles the trees, and
summer’s calamitous courtship begins again.

©2013, Donald Harbour

Flowers need a promise

Diana Fritillary butterfly on Mike Harbour’s Zennias.

As flickering bits of confetti,
torn paper cast they float
attaching to flowers and trees.

Flashes of sparkling color,
iridescent hues of the rainbow
trace these aerial spindly creatures.

The trees are telling nature
to get ready for the season’s child
a capricious snowy headed cherub.

Yet here are the last hangers-on,
pausing to pose for a picture
then gliding away to another petal.

Do they smell the air as I,
a mosaic breath of warmth, chill,
blended with damp dead leaves, and musk.

Rest arises from the earth
pushing furry babes to deep burrows,
proclaiming sleep will save you.

Gray has muted the sun’s light,
scudding clouds have dismissed it
they forage to drop their burden.

I wonder why the butterflies linger
defying the moment to drink the last nectar,
fall is waiting with its frosty wings.

Maybe it is because only their kiss
can comfort summer’s passing flowers
to promise resurrection in the spring.

©2012, Donald Harbour

Lost in your moment

The blistering heat of summer
has been replaced by
the cool mint of your smile
the rush of day slowed
halted by your gentle breeze
you linger in my thoughts
the wisp of your memory
the manna that feeds me
where the sun is a keen knife
your touch dulls the blade
even in the sweat of a moment
you are a clear mountain pool
a reflection of winter’s beauty
now life sustaining, giving
why were you made perfect
and, why are you among mortals
writing words speaks not of you
only being in your presence
defines your immense treasure
summoning the glory of your love.

©2012, Donald Harbour

Beached whales

Summer has arrived early
Its forging hammer slamming earthward
A furnace breath sears the living
Sucking the moisture from leaves
Everywhere the heat shimmers
Undulating ribbons of reflections
This parched ground is dormant
Its life tallow hardened
The grass has given up
Only some green tips show
The rest stunted straw men
The sun a white hot globe
It does not know mercy
Heating the barely breathable air
Living creatures suffer inhaling
Birds refuse to pierce the sky
The azure blue now a blistering lens
On the lake shore there are bodies
Beached and oiled human whales
They fry in the ultraviolet oven
Soaking up vitamin D morphing
Becoming desiccated melanoma vessels
Lobsters steaming in the lake water
Scorched blondes, tanned brunettes
Fat men and skinny pimpled teenage boys
No mercy, no mercy for any of them

©2011, Donald Harbour

There was a brook

There was a brook that wended
Through a forest. Its ancient path
A trace of thousands of years.
Majestic noble rocks, rounded with time,
The instruments of the water’s song.
Moss and fern cling to their mottled surface,
Lovers performing a summer kiss.
The hours are without motion,
Hands on a clock refuse to move.
The brook performs its symphony,
Life flourishes in its coolness.
Spiders skate on placid pools
As leaf boats languidly voyage
Fairies on holiday past rippling reeds.
Magic stirs the woodland air,
The old trees join hands above,
A cathedral protecting precious life.
The stream banks are crowded with flowers,
Awakened by a breeze from drowsy slumber.
The harmony, an Audubon painting,
Dazzling with the wonder of life.
The ink of creation still wet
Waiting for nature to exhale.
There was a brook.

Copyright: 2010, Donald Harbour

Herald of Southern Summer

Tithonus is proclaiming his immortality,
After seventeen years he shouts, sings it,
Shaking his timbals with mighty thunder,
Leaves of the trees quake and rustle,
The world vibrates with tettix joy,
All creation turns to hear the magical song,
He proclaims his many names across every hill,
Yellow Monday, Cherry Nose, Red eye, Whiskey Drinker,
Double drummer, black prince, La Cigarra,
Higurashi no Naku doro ni, summer’s jar fly,
A symbol of reincarnation he is the benign molter,
And yet the trickster, the ninja decoy utsusemi,
He represents insouciance singing into the night,
He is the ubiquitous herald of the Southern summer,
Ancient, praised in fable, the everlasting, cherished cicada.

Enjoy the  summer herald’s song

©2010, Donald Harbour

Life will continue renewed

The wind rustles the branches,
bones of trees with dying leaves,
the rattle is a cacophony of color,
gold, amber, orange, purple and red,
dancing, gleefully screaming a farewell,
holding as long as possible to the bough.

The music of fall sighs and whispers
across the meadow of brown grasses.
There is peace in the melody,
gently grating away the summer dust,
turning back the covers to an autumn bed.

A winter wisp of mare tails in the sky,
with frosty lips, North announces its coming.
Each breath a chilling knife,
carving away the husk of the past,
sculpting the delivery of a new year.

It is enchanting, a marvelous display,
a gift of reassurance that life
will continue renewed, refreshed,
nurtured by the promise of time and,
the earths fragile balance with nature.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

Love’s fallen tears

One day as the summer approached,
I took a stroll down a dusty road.
A brief morning shower had fallen,
Scattering the scent of fields newly mowed.

A breeze played with the daisies,
A game of catch me if you dare,
It kicked up the red sand of the surface,
Twirling dust dancers in the warm air.

I inhaled the beauty that surrounded me,
It would live only till the season turned.
There was a joy about all nature,
So, I slowed my step as I sojourned.

This lane passed through shadows and light,
Of oak and pine forested wood.
Then along fields of tall tasseled corn,
And pastures where cows chewed their cud.

Absorbed in the world around me,
I continued a mile – maybe more,
Until as time the trickster can do,
I walked through fate’s unseen open door.

Glancing down at the dirt road,
I saw another also walked alone ahead,
Faint as a whisper in the sand,
Though steady and measured the tread.

I was curious as to who it might be,
For none had I seen pass this way,
Nor did I know when they had stepped in the road,
On this marvelous magical day.

I quickened my pace to catch up,
Peering intently ahead to a bend.
I wished only to know who it was,
I did not want to bother nor offend.

The trees arched together
They formed a cool cathedral dome.
A sanctuary for those who tarried.
The solace of knowing ones home.

I walked as silently as I could,
Rounding a turn with a high banked hill,
I saw the shadow of a scrap of a man,
Not far ahead in the road standing still.

He leaned on a gnarled walking cane,
His white hair gleamed as if covered with dew.
Then he turned to look at my face,
With eyes of the clearest bright blue.

“I see you are enjoying this fine day as I,”
The voice strong but with the rasp of age.
“Why don’t you come walk with me for a piece,
At least to the other side of this forest glade?”

“Thank you,” I said and I strode to his side,
Where he turned heading on down the lane.
He began to speak as if we were longtime friends,
Without ever asking for my name.

“I was visiting the place of my birth,
Now gone but back in a fern covered glen.
My mother and brother are buried ‘neath a rose bush,
Where a rocky cliff makes the creek take a bend.”

“A tree there was planted by my father,
A red oak now a giant at its girth.
I was six when my little brother and mother,
Died at the moment of his birth.”

“Oh, I know that you probably don’t care,
About this old man’s tales of his past.
I just want to relive some memories with you,
Along with a simple requested task.”

Then he stopped and looked in my face,
Before I could ask what the task could be,
He reached out a farm weathered hand,
Holding the most beautiful rose he offered to me.

“I will leave you at the edge of this road,
I have some other business that I need to attend,
You’ll find a farm house further on with some people,
Stop there and tell them you are John’s friend.”

So I listened as he told me of his days,
Plowing fields behind a pair of loved mules,
About the implements of his work in the soil,
Protesting modern mechanized tools.

He spoke about his wife and his children,
Taken by the fever one and all,
How he once looked over the heads of men,
When he was not bent but young and tall.

I thought I saw a tear in the corner of his eye,
When he mentioned his friend a black and tan hound,
But that soon passed and he livened his step,
As he spoke of farming and growing the ground.

At last we reached the end of the glade,
The forest took up its stand once again.
“When you get to the house and tell them you know John,
Please give this rose only to him.”

Then he patted my hand that held the rose,
And turned down a meadow path of parted grass.
I said, “Goodbye I enjoyed your company,
I truly hope that this meeting is not our last.”

He stopped, paused a moment then looked back at me,
There was a smile on his face that touched my heart,
Saying,”Good friends do not take a life time to make,
Our walk together is a bond that no person can part.”

I watched him disappear in the shadows
Then he was gone leaving silence in this place,
I realized I was holding my breath,
Trying hard to remember his face.

Not too much further up the road
Past fields of weeds and a dilapidated barn,
I came to a driveway filled with cars,
Leading to a once proud old homestead farm.

I did not hesitate for I felt calm, at peace,
Knocking on the paint crackled solid plank door.
I waited as I heard footsteps approach,
Each one creaking a pine wood laid floor.

A man dressed in black stepped out,
I said, “I’m a friend of John who I have come to see.”
“Then you are welcome,” said the man with kindness,
“Please come in, peace be with thee.”

I followed him through a room filled with sadness,
Etched in the faces of those gathered there,
I heard, “Here is John,” and looked in a casket,
Where lay a man with white dew covered hair.

A great knot welled up in my chest,
The shock of the moment caught my surprise.
I heard his words echo in my mind,
As tears filled my now reddened eyes.

I took the rose and placed it beneath his hands,
As its petals fell scattering across his chest.
For a moment I thought his face changed to a smile,
And now I understood his single request.

“That was a kind thing to bring him today,”
The man standing beside me spoke with pride,
“I know that rose, it grows at his mothers grave,
John would have been 100 the day that he died.”

“He has tended that site since he was six,
On his mothers birthday for ninety-four years,
He has picked one rose to honor her,
The rose has a name it’s called “Loves Fallen Tears.”

“Today,” he continued, “is John’s funeral day,
Today would have been his mother’s birthday too.
I think you have helped John fulfill a kept promise,
Since he could not pick that rose brought by you.”

Was fate the chance meeting on that road,
Or something of life’s mystery not to understand?
It now has been forty years since that day,
Still I wake up feeling the rose in my hand.

I found the place where the rose bush grows,
Just where he said it would be.
Cared for by the forest and the creek bend,
‘Neath the branches of a grand red oak tree.

Each year on that memorial of John’s death,
I travel to that place across the glade,
With joy in my heart at being so honored,
I select a rose and place it where John is laid.

I often think what will happen at my passing,
But the answer you have already been told.
Two strangers will meet walking down that dusty lane,
One younger the other white haired, bent and old.

They will walk a distance through magical woods,
A conversation of past memories will begin to ensue.
Then the old man will stop, smile and ask for a favor,
Maybe the promise and the rose will be passed to you.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

The lass of another year

"Spring Alive" - graphic art by Donald Harbour

"Spring Alive" - graphic art by Donald Harbour

The last bit of frost
visited this morning.
Winter’s child grasping
at Spring’s new issues.
There is a calamity
in the air and the dawn.
The seasonal titans
playing rocks and scissors.
The sky is darkened
by their incessant indecision.
But, the earth knows
awakening with a yawn.
Birds have stirred
to the parade of earthworms.
Ants are seen to muster
armies for future picnics.
Growth elbows and pushes
for a moments basking.
Slowly, inextricably
we tilt toward summer.
A smooth passage across
a sea of blossomed pastures.
The joy of life skips,
dances into the heart.
The lass of another year
is wearing her pinafore frock.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour