Sweet Olive and Her Outlaw Wind

dscn6329
Is it just my sweet olive,
Or is yours, too,
Perfuming the winds
That ride leaf-back
Over the smilaxed fence,
Onto the back porch,
Where we hold cups and talk?
There she breathes into our casual circle
Her bewitchery: the memory
Of Louisiana in autumn,
Of gold and green and brown and gray,
Of chill and woodsmoke,
Secret hiding places, long vesper views
Down blue alleys of pine and oak,
Splinter of the dying season underfoot,
Deep breaths,
Flannel, winter coming.
And I forget what I was saying.

All that evocative power in
Spindly, amber beads
That fall apart when I harvest,
And withhold their glory
When I get too close;
Sweet Olive, that minx,
Gives essentially,
Prodigally to an outlaw wind.

 

 

Advertisements

Honey Rock Farm

I grew up in Louisiana in a house with a name.  The McClendons built the house under a canopy of Spanish moss and named it Honey Rock Farm.  When they moved up the hill and built farther back in the woods, we bought Honey Rock, chickens and all.

We were not farmers of any kind.  In fact most of our time was spent passing one another on the six miles of Lee Road heading into town to our fast-food jobs or to Campus Life events or to endless school days in the portable trailers on Three Rivers Road.

But if a farmer is one who loves his land, then we were farmers of a sort.  Every one of us looks back at Honey Rock days with a sigh.  They were 13 acres of beautiful. This poem was written in 1991 shortly after we left Honey Rock:

Around Honey Rock Farm

The gravel track
Runs past the barn and scrabbling chickens,
Just past the oaks along a bygone fence,
And forms an ellipsis.

The brown house, though on stilts
Against the rain, rocks low
Under an arch of oak and pine.

Brown boards on the walkway, gone
A permanent dust-yellow from pollen,
Lead on around the house.

Tall pines ring the pond
And hide the scrubby island
And the square, wooden duck house.

Sweet olive scent slips around
The back porch and relaxes, crepe-swathed
On a wrought-iron chair.

The green swing on its oak-driven pegs
Brushes the wood pile
And sways in an azalea breeze.

And the gravel track
Runs past the barn and scrabbling chickens,
Just past the mailboxes,
And joins with the blacktop.

Memory teaches.  The Word teaches.  Honey Rock got its name from this morning’s reading:

And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”  Psalm 81:16

If I let Him, He would satisfy me, fill me, with the honeyest of honeys.  He is the honey-giver, the mead-maker, and He sighs, “Oh, that you would believe me!”  I try other honeys.  They do not satisfy.  The honey that satisfies, the honey He offers, is His voice in my ear:

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth”  
Psalm 119:103.

Lord, today I open wide my mouth for honey from the rock.  By your Spirit let this prayer cover me until this day’s sun sets.

I believe You.

~