For months, the human world has been plagued with upheaval — seen and unseen — but nature's world knows not of these things. The bees keep buzzing, hummingbirds flutter, and pollinators go about their business, ensuring our flowers bloom. There's solace to be taken in the oblivious continuity of the natural world. In May, I asked readers to express appreciation for the joy and peace that native flora and fauna, and clean air and water lend to the garden and their lives.
Nearly 100 poet gardeners traded hoe for pen to document their appreciation for nature. Here are my favorite submissions.
Taking first place this year is Lynne Mahoney of East Islip. She'll receive a copy of "Our Native Bees: North America's Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them," by Paige Embry (Timber Press).
Congratulations to all!
Lynne Mahoney, East Islip
Wonder what you're feeling as you gingerly uncover
bare branches of the tree that was a cutting from your mother.
The extra tight embraces she saved for you, her son?
The hugs of Sunday dinners, now so many loved ones gone?
Memories must warm as you intently tend that twig
for all the decades' care bestowed, it's not returned one fig.
The best of the rest
My Garden Sanctuary
Jane Shelley, Wantagh
How wonderful that nature has stayed constant with its life,
Not so the world of humans, caught in COVID strife.
Birds and squirrels need not a mask, when socially out and about.
Trees, perennials and bushes, are free to grow and sprout.
My garden gifts this special place, to enjoy life as before,
A heavenly respite from a surreal new world,
Just outside my kitchen door.
King and Queens of the World
Cristian Martinez, Ronkonkoma
Gliding to each flower spreading life
Hardworking and buzzing along the way
Essential to our lives, but we swat them
An annoyance, but they don’t mean to spread fear
Keeping the cycle of life turning
Pollinating our plants so we can continue to exist
Let’s treat our bees as the king and queens of our world.
Isa Hansel, Selden
Will I see my friend today?
Or must I wait for a warmer May?
The little friend I'm waiting for
I love so much and do adore!
THERE — she made it through my cemented driveway,
This little, tiny pansy-flower
Greets me again, it's nature's power!
Elaine Anne Pasquali, Dix Hills
I watch a bumblebee flying free, wishing that it was me
Unlike the bee, I shelter in place, wearing a mask over my face
I watch the bee flit from flower to flower, harvesting pollen by the hour
I think, "If bees continue to die, there’ll be no flowers or veggies to buy"
But for now, like Miss Muffet, I sit on my tuffet
My blue mood I’ll shirk, watching the bumblebee work
Thank you, little bumblebee
Judy Burkhoff, Wantagh
In my lush, bountiful garden I sit,
As the bees buzz and the butterflies flit.
I watch as they scour
From flower to flower
Sipping peach nectar, I crave every bit.
Ruth Shulman, Fort Salonga
There’s more to a garden’s scenery
Than fancy flowers and greenery
Gardens have other features
Inclusive of exotic creatures
Like spiders, moths and fireflies leaving me to theorize
That showered with sunlight, raindrops and love
Restful gardens are what warm memories are made of
Eileen Hession, Long Beach
My lawn has yellow polka dots, I think of them as beauty spots.
Weeds? Oh, no! I beg your pardon, they’re the hardest workers in my garden.
They’re good for salads, wines and teas, bouquets for mom, pollen for bees.
They’ll grant your wish: blow on the puff. Note: one flower is enough
to cover your lawn, no matter how big. You don’t like them? You can dig
them up, but soon you’ll learn: The dandelion will always return.
Ode to Isabella Moth
Barbara J. Minerd, Halesite
Oh, you woolly bear
dining on dandelions without care
Fashionista in black and rust
Cocooned before your springtime lust
Emerging as a tiger moth
drinking fragrant nectar froth
moon dancing ‘till you're betrothed.
Vincent J. Tomeo, Flushing
Elegant ladies grace a pond
prim, proper standing upright on water.
Long-legged ladies poised to snack on insects.
Soon they will drop their guard,
Christopher Brown, Wading River
Yesterday I came upon a turtle
Laying eggs behind the Russian sage
Covered with dirt
The ancient creature
Seems at peace with its and our world
It quickly stretches and withdraws into its shell
Oblivious to our human misery
Margaret Hanan, Rockville Centre
In the midst of a worldwide invasion by an invisible force
We are blessed with the beauty of native plants
Natural, homegrown, joys to behold
Gifts from God, symbols of hope
Daniella Graffeo, Mount Sinai
Fill her with water, and out comes her tears,
Dripping onto vibrant petals like rain
Her troubles and sorrows seep into the soil;
Deep roots absorb, then repurpose her pain.
Although she may only be a piece of shaped metal
With a rusty handle and a spout,
She poses as a goddess for all those she provides for; a true beauty, both inside and out.
Anthony J. Bruno, Smithtown
For many years she watched from her window
As I toiled at length in the garden below
She smiled as every miracle erupted from the Earth
And rejoiced at the cardinal against the snow
Now as I look up I see that she has gone
I know she watches joyfully as I toil on
Nature’s Busy Helpers
Karen Schlauraff, East Moriches
Out on Nature’s path, the busy bumblebees
Weave in and out the daffodils
That sway upon the breeze.
Collecting pollen from each flower,
A treasure that is dear,
Part of Nature’s power
That brings beauty every year.
Liz Bellovin, Baldwin
My garden brings surprises like a sneaky Valentine
Some plants I’ve seeded, others flew in on spring winds and put down roots.
Milkweed and parsley beckon Monarch butterflies.
Praying mantis emerge like translucent Martians onto soft roses, sweetly teasing and pleasing the bees
Scents of honeysuckle and rosemary create an aromatic symphony
Backed by the low soulful gong of wind chimes.
My cat and I are grateful here — me with dirty fingernails, Biko with one eye on the birds.
Ellen Mason, Stony Brook
Commotion at the feeder,
A dash of red and black.
Then chickadee and blue jay
Start mounting an attack,
But the cardinal will not give an inch
And takes the feeder back.
Daniel Flynn, Quogue
I feel Spring’s first heartbeat at the village pond.
Tadpoles, forsythia and daffodils.
The cherry tree at the schoolhouse
wins best dressed, while Sage, Thyme and Parsley
await the summer feasts.
Bird’s nests and Monarchs, Peonies and tomato plants,
Nature’s symphony always catches me when I’m not quite ready.
Daria Hong, Garden City
Oh look how my garden grows,
in colorful, little rows.
Bursts of yellow, pink and red
in a wooden flower bed.
Oh look how my tulips sway,
and how my daffodils play,
on this glorious spring day.
Chrissy Torrance, Levittown
Grow my gardens each year right from seed
Plant some extra to give those who need
While I pause in between pulling weeds
Admire bird friends who come near to feed
My time spent here, never hurried
A peaceful place to bury my worries
Now if only each day could be SUNNY!
Ode to a Seed
Mary Lou Hughes, East Islip
How marvelous to be so free
carried along by gentle breezes or
frenzied gusts at breakneck speeds
no concern for destination or provisions
content to be a vehicle for new life
in a rocky crag or well-groomed garden
humble enough to blend in not shine.
'Those Heavenly Days …'
Ann Perillo, Dix Hills
The garden I tended, I no longer do
Those wonderful days are now very few
They were so joyful and relaxing … therapeutic, too!
Those days are long gone … now I’m so “blue”
My brain tells me “yes” …
my body says “no”
Since I can no longer garden,
It upsets me so!
Terri Donahue, Center Moriches
Hands in the dirt, gardening on knees
Planting veggies and flower seeds
Daffodils and crocuses blooming to please
Welcoming buzzing pollinator bees
Sprouting clumps of dandelion weeds
Dormant leaf buds bursting on trees
Bringing pollen that makes us sneeze
Hannah Conti, West Babylon
See on your stained bare feet the millennia of growth and rot,
earthworms working underground
wonders so trees can root in their ancestors’
last gifts. Be like the nested birds’ calling:
our survival depends on these green shelters
of the pitch pine and sugar maple,
this promise of the woods, we love what we know.