One could select any of the poems in Living in the Nature Poem by Mary Harwell Sayler, but start with this one, “Seasoned:”
Spring came hobbling in
on a stick
from a dog-
by pollen-ridden wind.
Spring came limping
knees of knotted pines
their pajamas of pink azaleas.
In a few short lines, Sayler packs images that are vivid, precise and arresting. Spring arrives hobbling and limping. It arrives with flowers, yes, but the early flowers of the dogwood are thrown and shaken down by the wind – pollen-ridden, yes, but suggesting a last bit if winter. And those alliterative knobby knees of knotted pines still in their “pink pajamas,” well, the poet is having some fun here.
I choose “Seasonsed” to start because it illustrates so many of the poems collected in Living in the Nature Poem. And the three operative adjectives here are vivid, precise and arresting.
Sayler writes about cardinals and blue jays, whippoorwills and evening traffic that is more avian than automotive. She describes hiking in a cave and finding Dante’s circles in a dark wood. She considers the land of Oz in the Florida landscape, noting that “Dorothy was never a favorite of mine.” She passes Walt Whitman as she comes out of a Dunkin Donuts but doesn’t speak to him. She watches the power company trim tree limbs, the limbs becoming “disconnected service” as they fall to the ground. And she’s conscious of Carl Sandburg and Wallace Stevens as she considers fog and the landscape op the Gulf Coast.
And always present are the images of nature, even when she walks to a mall in Arizona, leaves Cozumel, or considers the American Dream.
Sayler, who lives in North Florida, is the author of some 25 books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She blogs at The Poetry Editor and Poetry, under her name at Mary Harwell Sayler, and at Christian Poets and Writers. Many of the poems in this collection have been published in literary journals and magazines.
When you read Living in the Nature Poem, and you should, remember those three words – vivid, precise, and arresting. And a dash of wry humor.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.