Eavesdropping on Private Voices

When I opened the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
whispers.
                   My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
                                               I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.
~Denise Levertov, “Aware” from This Great Unknowing.

If we’re not careful around here, we would be swallowed inch by inch by a variety of vines surrounding our home and farm buildings. Between the ivy, the Virginia creeper and the ubiquitous blackberry vines, we’re mere audience to a variety of opportunistic expansion efforts of the local flora.

When I open the front or back door during these days of late summer, I peek out to see what might be reaching out to grab me for a toehold as I pass by. The vines crawl up the window screens and reach their little tendrils inside to see if the house is fair game. The leaves whisper to each other about their best strategy for total domination; I eavesdrop on them as they drop from the eaves and their discussions are private and hushed, as if they were meeting in a backroom with the shades pulled down.

We humans think we’re in control, but we’re not. Not even close. We pull them down when they are most bare and vulnerable in the winter and still they’re back with gusto in the spring. These vines and creepers are the epitome of resiliency and I’m convinced they conspire among each other, plotting the eventual takeover.

I don’t mind so much, I guess. I respect a robust growth and survival instinct but I’m all for keeping our boundaries intact.

We’re good as long as they don’t expect to come in for a cup of coffee or share my pillow with me. My welcome mat only extends so far…

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This Crown of Love


I love you
or I do not live
at all.

No doubts
are permitted—
though they will come
and may
before our time
overwhelm us.

Just as the nature of briars
is to tear flesh,
I have proceeded
through them.
Keep
the briars out,
they say.
You cannot live
and keep free of
briars.

At our age the imagination
across the sorry facts
lifts us
to make roses
stand before thorns.

But we are older,
I to love
and you to be loved,
we have,
no matter how,
by our wills survived
to keep
the jeweled prize
always
at our finger tips.
We will it so
and so it is
past all accident.
~William Carlos Williams (written at age 72) from “The Ivy Crown”

How can we, at our age,
who have treated love as no accident,
looking into a well
of such depth and richness –
how can we tell the young
to will their love to survive –
to strive through thorns and briars,
though tears wept and flesh torn,
to come to cherish the prize
of rose and ivy crown.

It is everything that matters,
this crown of love
we have willed and worn together:

I love you or I do not live at all.
I to love and you to be loved.

The Jeweled Prize

drip

 

rainjewels2

 

But we are older,
I to love
                 and you to be loved,
                                        we have,
no matter how,
                 by our wills survived
                                        to keep
the jewelled prize
                   always at our finger tips.
We will it so
                  and so it is
                                       past all accident.
~William Carlos Williams, excerpts from “The Ivy Crown”
written at age 72, published in Journey to Love

 

fogdrops2

 

How can we, at our late middle age,
who have treated love as no accident,
look into a well
of such depth and richness~
how can we tell the young
to will their love to survive –
to strive through thorns and briars,
though tears wept and flesh torn,
to cherish the prize
of rose and ivy crown.

It is all that matters,
this crown of love
we have willed and worn together
through the years:

I love you or I do not live at all.
I to love and you to be loved.

 

 

silverthawthorn

 

 

weepingrose

 

 

ivycling