Karen McAferty Morris – The Ease of Spring

Morris LE P&W June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2024.

The Ease of Spring, poems by Karen McAferty Morris.

The Ease of Spring

From a forty-degree low,
the west wind is warming,
combing the oleander and myrtle
and turning the bayou to tweed.
Near the banks the water is calm,
with strands of yellow pollen.

Spring is everywhere.

Though sunlight slants and shade is cold,
the wisteria swells in lavender velvet,
daffodils are lit with white starbursts,
blueberry buds are bumps of faded pink,
the Japanese maple’s thin maroon branches end
in tiny deer hooves of green.

There is no stopping this eruption of life,
moving in stealth even beneath an any-shaped moon.

Spring’s ease shames me,
emphasizes the difficulties
of my efforts to create, the setbacks,
the intervals of inactivity.

Yet sometimes the earth struggles.
In the desert, the cactus blooms,
rootless moss softens Iceland’s lava fields,
fireweed lifts purple flowers from scorched land,
for a few short weeks tufts of cottongrass feed
migrating caribou and snow geese on the tundra.

The Uniqueness of Leaves

Science tells us that no snowflake is like another.
But in northern Alabama this November evening after a rain,
slick loafer-brown oak leaves,
are everywhere underfoot, their tiny acorns
snapping with each step—and it occurs to me
that no leaf is exactly the same,
not the dogwood, nor the sweetgum or fig.

My son’s kindergarten hand-print turkey
with feathers crayoned saffron
created on that particular day
by his distinctive hand.

My dead brother’s last Saturday morning phone call
when we laughed over memories
of watching old TV comedies.

This journey under trees at their turn
from cool green into sepia. Nothing is ordinary
or common.

Instead of finishing the Sunday crossword tonight,
perhaps I will, in a poem, memorialize
the noisy squabbling of two birds over
ripe persimmons outside my window in Italy
on a frost-laced October morning.


I pause on the trail. Not from fatigue. Not from the relief of having traversed the trail along the vertical drop above the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Carved into the granite wall, it is so narrow that a hand cable has been provided for hikers to grasp.

I pause from enchantment. The land has widened. A meadow of bear grass slopes gently to the precipice, now in late summer erupting in blooms, not grass at all but hundreds of tiny white clusters shaped into cones crowned with pointed caps, each on a single slim stalk. In hundreds, they stand and seem to admire the distant peaks of the Continental Divide like awed spectators, and together we watch the rays of the setting sun turn the stone to ruby and bathe the snowy crevices in red-gold.

Back at home a thousand miles away, my father has no doubt tended his garden of tomatoes, squash, and beans, a bounty he used to carry inside by the basketfuls, and she’d cook their country meals. Now his meals are solitary. Her long illness is over, but in the last years he tended to her, adjusting her food, adapting the house to accommodate her wheelchair, driving her to long-distance appointments. Whenever I visited, late at night I could hear them laughing at TV shows, like they always had. When her ability to speak failed and she was able to move only her fingers, he designed a button that she could press as an alert. It sounded like a two-note doorbell, and they thought it a merry trick when, the first time I heard it, I scurried to the front door, returning puzzled that no one was there. He garnished the house with gardenias.

In the company of the bear grass, I remain until the shadows swallow the summits and the alpenglow fades. I ache to see such beauty pass. But I have seen it before, have known a much longer brilliance that defied the approaching darkness.

© Karen McAferty Morris

Living in two beautiful places, north Alabama and the Florida panhandle, Karen McAferty Morris writes about nature and everyday people. Her poetry has been recognized for its “appeal to the senses, the intellect, and the imagination.” It has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Sisyphus, The Louisville Review, Black Fox, The Ekphrastic Review, The Mackinaw and Canary. Her collections Elemental (2018), Confluence (2020), and Significance (2022) are national prize winners. A member of the Emerald Coast Writers and the National League of American Pen Women, Karen lists reading, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family as favourite pastimes.

One Reply to “Karen McAferty Morris – The Ease of Spring”

  1. Karen, your poetry is amazing. You paint pictures and the words create pictures in my mind, you tell stories in such a way that I feel as though I am there, you draw out emotions and some are sad and evoke tears and your words tell bout ordinary events making the events extraordinary.

    I am so pleased we have become friends and I thank God for your superb talent.

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