Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Spiderworts

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

The purple spiderworts showed up
on her last walk in the mountains –

Their long, dark green leaves
bending and flowing,
their deep violet, three-petalled
flowers wide open to a sun
whose canopy-filtered light
was prancing about the forest floor.

I remember it:

How she “ooed” and “ahed”
over these small, docile plants.

How they captivated her like
nothing else had that day.

How they weren’t going to
let her go.

So, her old friend said:

“Well head back to the barn, fetch a shovel.
You can take some home, plant them in your garden.”

None of us spoke about the things
the gesture presupposed,
though we all knew.

Yes. We knew.

The bluebirds showed up the
Spring before –
flitting about the patch of tall
grasses that she could
see from her bedroom window.

Everything about them
was oh so very cheery
and charming.

Though she’d never
especially delighted in birds,
she delighted in these –

Little feathered sprites
flashing vibrant colors
and repeating ‘tu-a-wees.’

They amused,
and distracted,

carrying away time,

and other things
not spoken of.

An old wooden chair
was installed by the window
and a brand new nesting box
on a post – straight and tall.

They were roosting places,

for awhile.

Do we have a choice in what claims us?

She became bluebirds
and spiderworts.

Why these?

Why not lilies, or a particular rose?

Why not the nestling rabbits
she had tried to save from a
marauding dog?

For eighteen Springs,
I’ve quietly peeked in
to count the bluebird eggs


and come to my knees
to tend these very same

I’ve sat in the cemetery,

When my time comes,
will I have been claimed?

And, if so,
will I know what has claimed me?

Will I have any clue,
given all the grand possibilities,
what it is that wants to keep
repeating my name?

Will I somehow know what is to become of me?

most importantly,
will I have time enough

to speak of it?

Will I have time enough
to say,

“Thank you,”

through some yet-to-be-determined

gesture of gratitude?

© 2013-2018/Jamie K. Reaser
For Wilhelmina 'Billie' Reaser (5 March 1943 - 4 April 1995)
Published in "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems" ( 

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