Sunday Nov 29

Poetry Clark Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. Author of four volumes of poetry, Patricia’s latest book is Sunday Rising. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, also appearing in The Atlantic, Gettysburg Review, Poetry, Slate, and Stand. New work is forthcoming in Kenyon Review and Southern Humanities Review.


The Canopy

In truth, Cloverdale Road doesn’t end, blacktop
            giving way to packed Michigan dirt,
                        dark brown, unrutted, and the car’s
            tires keep humming, it’s just the tune
riffing, something I listen for.
                                    The trees all dripping.
Come spring, the waited-for season, the woods
            reveal their true business, layer welcoming
                        the next, as first the forest floor
            blooms, then subsequent layers, bush,
                        small sapling, up and up to
                                    white oak, American beech.
They call wildflowers that come back
            spring ephemerals. Their time of bloom
                        in sequence before the canopy
            closes, dark, impenetrable. The list
                        grows long—wood anemone,
                                    blue cohosh, great waterleaf—
on and on, in columns, alphabetical, not listed
            by common name but by family.
                        Thus, the anemone group.
            Blue cohosh joins the caulophylum
                        members. No surprise that waterleaf, both
                                    Virginianum and the great,
belong to the hydrophyllum group.
            Today, driving through downpours, rain
                        lashing at times, and now, walking,
            I note how brief the time allowed for them,
for us, light, air, vertical space to thrive in,
                                    before the canopy closes for good.

Trout Lily

A golden head nods,
flower on a long
stem rising from
mottled leaves.

And the back edges
of the petals stick
up, as though in
a curtsy, these
elbows going
back and up.
At what place on
earth, near dappled woods,
did this grow?
Its leaves hint
of a fish moving
away, stippled flank
glimpsed along a stream.
Dusk slipping in, the
whole canopy coming
alive with bird-
song of twilight.