Sunday, August 16, 2020


My Meadow

Well, it's still the loveliest meadow in all Vermont.

I believe that truly, yet for years have hardly

seen it, I think, having lived too long with it —

until I went to clean up the mess of firewood

left by the rural electric co-op when they cut

my clump of soft maples "threatening" their lines,

this morning, the last day of September. My maple leaves

were spilled in the grass, deep crimson. I worked

with axe and chainsaw, and when I was done I sat

on my rock that had housed my fox before the state

executed him on suspicion of rabies, and then

I looked at my meadow. I saw how it lies between

the little road and the little brook, how its borders

are birch and hemlock, popple and elm and ash,

white, green, red, brown, and gray, and how my grass

is composed in smooth serenity. Yet I have hankered

for six years after that meadow I saw in Texas

near Camp Wood because I discovered an armadillo

there and saw two long-tailed flycatchers

at their fantastic mating dance in the air.

Now I saw my meadow. And I called myself all kinds

of a blind Yankee fool — not so much for hankering,

more for the quality of my looking that could make me

see in my mind what I could not see in my meadow.

However, I saw my serviceberry tree at the edge

of the grass where little pied asters, called Farewell-

to-Summer, made a hedge, my serviceberry still limping

from last winter's storms, and I went

and trimmed it. The small waxy pointed leaves

were delicate with the colors of coral and mallow

and the hesitating blush of the sky at dawn.

When I finished I stepped over my old fence

and sat by my brook on moss sodden from last night's

rain and got the seat of my britches wet.

I looked at my brook. It curled over my stones

that looked back at me again with the pathos

of their Paleozoic eyes. I thought of my

discontents. The brook, curled in its reflections

of ferns and asters and bright leaves, was whispering

something that made no sense. Then I closed my eyes

and heard my brook inside my head. It told me —

and I saw a distant inner light like the flash

of a waterdrop on a turning leaf — it told me

maybe I have lived too long with the world.


Hayden Carruth
If You Call This Cry A Song
Countryman Press 1983

HC once took me up to his meadow, and his large garden, all along his brook ("Foote") that also ran by his house, a place Susan and I found by guessing "that's where a poet might live" and by golly we were right, it was 1974 and we would spend our honeymoon, unannounced, at the home of Hayden and Rose Marie Carruth. They were that generous and we were that silly & young. During that same visit, or another one, Hayden and I hiked the dirt road his house was on, and it was a round hike that went around Marshall's farm, a good friend of the poet. We walked in the night since Hayden worked through the night. I always felt "My Meadow" somehow encompassed every poem Hayden wrote. 

[ BA ]