You have been quite patient with me as I have talked about the Bartram's Boxes project without posting up many poems. This was a tough assignment -- each poem containing a reference to a theme, a tree, and some Bartram history. But after almost a year, 13 poems are all done and, with thanks to my creative partner, Claire Owen,will be delivered today in their extraordinary boxes to the Center for Art in Wood exhibition. The show does not open until May 2014 so I will send out a poem now and again to whet your appetite for the full series.
As often happens when I write, I can miss the most obvious thing. So when I was contemplating the last Bartram poem inspired by the Kentucky Coffeetree to go into the Caretakers box, it finally occurred to me that there should probably be a poem called...
We travel at risk of health and untold loneliness
to uncover what has been seen only by Creek
or crocodile among the brambles.
How we love each fruit or flower for its singularity,
the way we love a wife’s touch, a son’s quick mind,
a daughter’s attentiveness.
Ours is the commerce of curiosity, seeds gathered,
sifted, tenderly nestled in moss, until with sunlight
and breath, each will spark like tinder,
reveal its secret – beauty, fragrance, usefulness –
brilliant as sunset, dark as coffee, a balm –
sent to bloom across oceans like the children
who blossom in our absence.
We are men of science. Men of faith.
This is our praise.