Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Predators

The Ponds

Here’s a thought-provoking poem from Mary Oliver, followed by my comments.

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided—
and that one wears an orange blight—
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away—
and that one is a lumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

©Mary Oliver, in New and Selected Poems, Vol. One., pp. 92-93
Beacon Press, Boston, 1992

Of course imperfections aren’t necessarily nothing. Sometimes they’re distress calls. Or signs of neglect.

Still, like Mary Oliver, I also want and need to see big picture beauty in a water lily pond, garden or meadow. Because, as she puts it, “I want to believe [And I do!] I am looking into the white fire of a great mystery.”

The mystery, it seems to me, isn’t simply about water lilies. It’s also about us. Especially now. Not simply because each of us is beautiful, but because taken together, we reflect the light of a mystery beyond ourselves. Something beyond our beauty, our flaws, and our “unstoppable decay.” To say nothing of the muskrats (whose days are also numbered) looking to take us down one by one.

Especially now.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 July 2019
Photo found at

The Angels and the Tiger


Here’s another Amy poem for children everywhere. Especially, but not only young children in unsafe situations. Amy Carmichael spent most of her life in South India living with and for young Indian children.

Most were girls; some were boys. Many were temple children, Read the rest of this entry »

rigid white spines


rigid white spines

protect thick upright stem

tiny leaflets shrink

* * *

I don’t have a clue what to call this beauty.
It stands in the Silver Garden at Longwood Gardens.
Living repository of succulents, mosses and unusual trees.
All capable of living with limited water supplies.
The dark area behind it is part of a window frame.

I decided to see whether I could write a haiku
that at least captured what I was seeing in the photo.
Then I searched for cacti images to see what kind it might be.
That’s when I discovered my first effort was off the mark.
I rewrote it accordingly.  I think.

It seems ‘normal’ plant logic doesn’t work here.
The spines, for example, are actually ‘leaves.’
The little green leaflets won’t develop into leaves.
Sometimes they become the source of more spines.
And then there’s that tall upright stem.
Not really a ‘spine,’ though we often call it that.
The function of the true spines (not simply thorns)
is not to protect those cute oval leaflets.
It’s to guard the cactus from predators seeking its treasure–
life-giving, water-like liquid, stored on behalf of the plant.

No, I won’t turn this into a lesson about life or death.
I just want you to know how hard I worked on this haiku for you!

Also, if you’re cactus-savvy,
and can enlighten us about what to call it
or about anything else of interest,
such as statements above that are wrong,
now’s your chance!

This is not a poem.
I decided it looked better this way.

* * *

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 January 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, May 2014
Silver Garden, Longwood Gardens Pennsylvania

noisy commotion

noisy commotion

young coopers hawk loses prey

aggressive squirrels score

* * *

Mid-fall games are on

Outside my kitchen window

Hunger games

Power games

Survival games

Fourteen Hungry Turkey Vultures, All in a Row!

(Not my backyard, not my vultures, not a fall scene–but it will do in a pinch!)

Outdoor tomcat–also not mine–takes victory strut around back yard

Proudly displays doomed sparrow clutched in mighty jaws

Knock knock


Enforcer squirrels rush into the fray,

Intimidate giant predators with much ado about everything–

Unexpected heroes in a bloodless war to the death

Seasoned hawk swoops to snatch juicy rodent

Young coopers hawk goes hungry for now

Are we having fun?

Not really

Too many victims

Too few heroes

* * *

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 November 2014
Photos from open stock on internet

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