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Dooryard Flower
By Ellen Bryant Voigt


Because you are sick I want to bring you flowers,
flowers from the landscape that you love—
because it is your birthday and you're sick
I want to bring the outdoors inside,
the natural and the wild, picked by hand,
but nothing is blooming here but daffodils,
archipelagic in the short green
early grass, erupted
bulbs planted decades before we came,
the edge of where a garden once was kept
extended now in a string of islands I straddle
as in a fairy tale, harvesting,
not taking the single blossom from a clump
but thinning where they're thickest, tall-stemmed
from the mother patch, dwarf to the west, most
fully opened, a loosened whorl,
one with a pale spider luffing her thread,
one with a slow beetle chewing the lip, a few
with what's almost a lion's mane,
and because there is a shadow on your lungs, your liver,
and elsewhere, hidden,
some of those with delicate green
streaks in the clown's ruff (corolla
actually made from adapted leaves), and more
right this moment starting to unfold, I've gathered
my two fists full, I carry them like a bride,
I am bringing you the only glorious thing
in the yards and fields between my house and yours,
none of the tulips budded yet, the lilac
a sheaf of sticks, the apple trees
withheld, the birch unleaved—
it could still be winter here, were it not
for green dotted with gold, but you won't wait
for dogtoothed violets, trillium under the pines,
and who could bear azaleas, dogwood, early profuse rose
of somewhere else when you're assaulted here, early May,
not any calm narcissus, orange corona
on scalloped white, not even it's slender stalk
in a fountain of leaves, no stiff cornets of the honest
jonquils, gendered parts upthrust in brass and cream:
just this common flash in anyone's yard,
scrambled cluster of petals
crayon-yellow, as in a child's crawing of the sun,
I'm bringing you a sun, a children's choir, host
of transient voices, first bright
splash in the gray exhausted world, a feast
of the dooryard flower we call butter-and-egg.

--------

On Thursday we drove back to Maryland for the first time since we entered Delaware on Saturday, driving through Ocean City en route to Assateague Island National Seashore. We stopped at the Barrier Island visitor center to see the film about wildlife in the park and to look at the tanks of bay fish and shellfish, then drove over the bridge and saw ponies immediately in the marsh on the other side. There were also egrets, seagulls and a great blue heron in the tall grass. We went to the bayside boardwalk where people were fishing and crabbing, then to the North Beach Life Saving Station museum, which had always been closed when we visited before. Unhappily, I lost the cap for my VR lens after the cap leash broke, which is a real pain, as it will take several days to replace...I suspect I'll mostly be using the little Nikon for the rest of the trip, particularly with so much sand around.


Ponies graze in the grass while an egret flies off in the distance of Assateague Island. (Chincoteague, which is in Virginia, is another hour south.)


A girl fishing with a net in the shallow water of Sinepuxent Bay...


...for blue crabs like this one, though this little one was probably dropped back in (all crabs must be measured before being removed from the bay).


Fiddler crabs like this one live in holes at the edge of the water.


They are, however, eaten by the likes of this herring gull, laughing gulls, plovers, egrets, herons and other birds.


Most of the families we saw in the national park were gathered to fish or look for crabs near this station.


Beautiful egrets -- cattle egrets and snowy egrets -- can be seen in the tall grasses all over the region.


But I suspect this sight is why most people come to this park: wild ponies at the side of the road, crossing parking lots, walking on beaches and munching the grass.


Because it was already nearly two in the afternoon when we left, we stopped for lunch at a Subway in Ocean City, then came back to where we're staying and Paul and I took the kids to the beach for a late afternoon swim. The tide was nearly in and it wasn't very hot -- low 80s, perfect -- and the beach wasn't nearly as crowded as it gets in the mornings. We caught and released many mole crabs and saw seagulls and pelicans fishing for them. After the lifeguards left, we followed the kids to the pool and swam a bit before returning for dinner -- there's a grill in the beach house so dinner was hot dogs, sausages and BBQ chicken. Then we watched some Olympics and some Red Sox.

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