Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon. Retired from social work she volunteered for many years at a wildlife rehabilitation and education facility caring for raptors and wolves. She enjoys gardening and wilderness hiking. Her poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Cobra Lily, the Jefferson Journal, Windfall, Turtle Island Quarterly and Trouvaille Review.
Hilling the corn
in the heat of afternoon
we suddenly notice the fox 50 feet away
sitting on haunches near the barn.
He muses in the dappled shade
as we work the ground –
mounding the corn with hoe and spade
and digging up the relentless bindweed.
Later, under cover of night,
he barks his challenge
outside the bedroom window
to bait our yellow dog
sleeping on our bed.
The dog lurches up, baying.
Nothing new here,
they’ve had this conversation before.
Brazen – this one –
as sure of his place on this homestead
as tonight’s ceiling of constellations
and dawn’s half-light in the meadow.
For now, the garden beckons,
redolent with scent.
still warm underfoot,
he turns to make his rounds
through vegetables and mulch –
as he does every night –
to reclaim what is his.
The doe arrives every day now,
sometimes more than once,
slipping around the corner
of the blackberry thicket
to the soft “thwok”
of apple and pear
as we toss them over the fence.
No fawn this year – or none survives.
She arrives on her own
separate from the other does
with young who shadow and dart.
she comes closer to the garden fence
where we weed the peonies.
Her left rear leg
canted at a slight angle
from some half-healed injury,
she delicately samples
first the yellow, then the red –
these gifts from the orchard.
Soon enough – the urgency of autumn,
but for now, she eats her fill,
then folds her legs beneath her.
She settles under alder and willow
near the seep from the spring.
With the garden to her back,
her ears twitch away the annoying flies.
She faces downhill –
a valley and mountain panorama –
content in this late summer drowse.
Low slanting light of autumn
illuminates what might
otherwise go unseen –
swarms of insects, tiny and frenetic.
They circle in orbital traceries
invisible to my eye.
Each insect a tiny planet,
each swarm a galaxy
amongst so many galaxies.
This late season hatch
hovers over this universe of garden.
The dragonflies have arrived –
green and blue darners
iridescent and resplendent.
So thick in numbers
that word of this feeding frenzy
must have circulated for miles.
There is surely a cacophony
inaudible to my ears
but for the dry whisper
of the darner’s wings as they dart and feed.
The porch rocker my front row seat
for this visual symphony –
these ephemeral changelings of summer know
winter’s adagio is on the wind.