Edited by Dava Sobel
Little single scullers striding
on the surface tension of the pond
glide by the turtle-paved bank,
can't sink to the muddy bottom.
Their narrow bodies and thready legs
look like racers' shells and oars.
They criss and cross their skim of water.
I doubt they ponder what's above or under.
The regatta of the striders' lives
looks merry though death will come
by frog or cold or generation's close.
Best not to dive too deep
into that question but stay amazed
at the forces that let them float
and row with greater ease
than the human sculler in a boat.
I cosseted my weary garden with clover,
practiced patience, saw the vanity of overwork.
The plants fixed nitrogen in the dark
and new riches formed under the green cover.
The land's sabbatical is not unlike human sleep
when the dark dome drops over the aviary of the mind
and the brain consolidates its record of time
through mysterious processes in slow-wave sleep
inscribing in cells what one has skimmed
from the hours: joy and sorrow, anxiety, relief.
That year of fallowing felt brief
but not as brief as the days that spin
or the busy nights that fix in the mind
precious faces, conversations, names,
the memories one wishes to keep safe
though some be rooted in places hard to find.