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Guest Poet Michael Orenda

On the Occasion of my Crossing


And there in the damp
Thaw of a vernal day,
Will lay the empty mossy boots,
Lichenous swaths of denim,
And sorrel-powdered sleeves of chambray.
There from the gaping sockets
In my pale hollow skull will creep
Lavish waves of woodruff, teaberry, thyme.
Jack-in-the-pulpit will spring
Within my ribs, mayapple
And bloodroot from my chalky loins.
Let the dogtooth violet and the squill
Celebrate my gift, and let,
From underneath those slender relics, lift
One tender oak, a seedling,
Nothing more,
Yet pushing aside the blade
Of and old garden trowel,
Tarnished, but still sharp,
With a knobby darkened handle
Still in the grasp of those weathered bones.

And let, for what encumbrance now is time,
The seasons round
Let the oak grow stately
And wide, to draw a fertile essence,
That is me, heavenward
To its very leaves,
That shimmer in the sun and breathe
My spirit
On a warm midsummer day across the sky.

April, 2001

Editor's note: this excerpt is from a much longer poem submitted by Mr. Orenda. Please contact him directly if you wish to see the poem in its entirety.

Michael Orenda's Questions:

Does it sound prayer-like?

That is my intent. I used the adjective "russet" twice.

I'm trying to substitute an image for its first use "burning russet leaves" that carries the smell of smoldering leaves on a crisp autumn day. But I'm having a tough time fleshing it out without using trite and tired images.

I use an invented word : "habitate". Its meaning is clear, but do I have a better choice?

Concerning the line "Let the dogtooth violet and the squill." Does this send the reader to the Burpee catalog for reference? Their choice is personal, and I think they read very well. But does it sound like the author was paging through Ortho's Guide to Gardening?

Thanks for input.

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