Remember Willow

 

driving north on I-five,
Mount Hood out the passenger side window–
awesome–
but it’s the budded willows
that draw me again and again,

in road side ditch,
furred golden-gray
bright against the bleak stems of winter scrub,
a small bird alights from one,
later, a plump red-tailed hawk
and my attention strays
from the dotted yellow line,

 

 

remembering:
a vase of pussy willows
soft-furred
in the serene setting
of the massage therapists room
last week,

remembering:
the emergency room visit
when my son was young
and buried two soft buds deep
in his ear canals,

and, nearly thirty years ago:
‘this is Willow,’
a friend introduced me playfully
to the man who became my husband,
our shared life initiated with
a name symbolic of regeneration,

‘people are afraid of willows’
truth-speaks another friend
just yesterday,
fear of plants
a contextual issue
or a thing of adverse experience,
willow behaving as she will,
drinking deep
whether her neighbor be a creek
or your drain pipe,

but imagine willow
well-placed,
reshaping a complaint into a celebration,
that wet spot in you yard,
make it wetter still
with meandering rills,
an accentuated basin,
and willow whips plunged into the muck
to root and transform the mire,
to ladder up shelter for birds
decorated each spring equinox
with pollen capsules
animated by bees,

 

 

see the gift of the willow-thicketed ditch,
the low wet ground dank with resilient life,
all the wet places to cherish and honor.
toppled in flood
or coppiced by gardener’s hand
willow regrows fresh
from rooted grip on bank and slope,
stabilizing,
strength in flexibility.

native willows, yes:
Hooker’s willow with leaves white-furred and roundly curved,
an un-willow-like presentation,

Pacific willow large and luminescent
with classic willowy grace,
in quiet waters gleaming,

Scotsman John Scouler,
companion of David Douglas,
gave his name
to another northwest willow – Scouler’s willow
slender, adaptable, edge-dweller,
I wonder by what name the Kalapuya knew you?

and Sitka willow, called a “great wildlife plant”
meaning interrelationships,
meaning life winged and hooved,

and life of craft:
ropes and nets,
fishing poles and baskets,
trellising and staking,
sculpture and utility.

and life-soothing medicine:
I once heard a tale
of a bear observed
stuffing its mouth with willow leaves,
a toothache relieved,
willow’s salicylic acid
is wild aspirin.

arching and whipping in winds,
fuzzy and golden pollen loaded,
the willows bloom,
yes it’s a bloom
though you see no petals,
catkin the word
rather than blossom,
but bees come
so blossom true
to the earliest waking pollinators.

A boon to the buzzing feasters,
a grace of place,
a bounty for craft,
she with whom I laughed,
Willow, I remember you.

 

2 comments on “Remember Willow”

  1. Ray says:

    Beautiful. Like you❤️❤️

    1. Leslie Davis says:

      Thank you, Ray!

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