In truth, Cloverdale Road doesn’t end, blacktop
giving way to packed Michigan dirt,
dark brown, unrutted, and the car’s
tires keep humming, it’s just the tune
riffing, something I listen for.
The trees all dripping.
Come spring, the waited-for season, the woods
reveal their true business, layer welcoming
the next, as first the forest floor
blooms, then subsequent layers, bush,
small sapling, up and up to
white oak, American beech.
They call wildflowers that come back
spring ephemerals. Their time of bloom
in sequence before the canopy
closes, dark, impenetrable. The list
grows long—wood anemone,
blue cohosh, great waterleaf—
on and on, in columns, alphabetical, not listed
by common name but by family.
Thus, the anemone group.
Blue cohosh joins the caulophylum
members. No surprise that waterleaf, both
Virginianum and the great,
belong to the hydrophyllum group.
Today, driving through downpours, rain
lashing at times, and now, walking,
I note how brief the time allowed for them,
for us, light, air, vertical space to thrive in,
before the canopy closes for good.
A golden head nods,
flower on a long
stem rising from
And the back edges
of the petals stick
up, as though in
a curtsy, these
back and up.
At what place on
earth, near dappled woods,
did this grow?
Its leaves hint
of a fish moving
away, stippled flank
glimpsed along a stream.
Dusk slipping in, the
whole canopy coming
alive with bird-
song of twilight.