Friday, May 20, 2016

Light in the Larches

Larch Trees in the Northern Cascades. Photo by Bill Devlin.

Margaret Simon is our host today for the Poetry Friday Roundup, so stop over at Reflections on the Teche and enjoy the offerings.

My "One Little Word" for this year is shine. I keep my eye open for shiny reminders to allow what's on the inside to slip out through the cracked places of my clay pot. I'm feeling quite shiny as I share today's poem with you.

I've mentioned several times this year my readings in Sarah Arthur's devotional collection, Between Midnight and Dawn, published by Paraclete Press. I've found so many new poets to love in her pages.  Toward the end of the book, which I worked my way through on a weekly basis, I found this beautiful, shining poem by Paul J. Willis. Paul is an English professor at Westmont College and former Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, California.

When I contacted Paul for permission to use the poem, he told me it was written during his term as artist-in-residence at Northern Cascades National Park. Having never heard of such residency programs, I went in search of information. Some of you lovely poets may be interested. Click here for information and a map of which parks have residency programs. This link will take you to more poems written by artists-in-residence.

One more thing. I had never seen a larch tree. Actually, I'd never even heard of a larch tree. None of those here in the Deep South, so a bit more searching led me to discover that it's a deciduous conifer. Now we have lots of pine cones around here and lots of pine needles falling to the ground, but never bare pine trees, unless they are seriously dying. I am totally mystified by a conifer that turns yellow and loses all its leaves. It sounds beautiful, and one day I want to see them in the Northern Cascades.

Now, enjoy this very lovely poem.


     (Laryx lyallis)

A few weeks after my mother died,
I dreamed that she was waiting for me
in a ravine of spring-green larches.
There was no worry in her eyes, and
she sat there with her knees drawn up,
content to be in the filtered sunlight.
Funny, because she never lived
among larch trees--my mom grew up
on an orange grove and raised us
in the Douglas fir. I do not live
among them either, apart from my rare
visits to the North Cascades. But when
I'm there, as now I am, sitting barefoot
on Cutthroat Pass among amber larches
bathing every bowl and basin,
I have a sense that she's okay,
and that I am too, born to witness what
I can within this green and golden world
which still persists, with or without us,
but mostly with us, I've come to believe.
Things and people pass away--
but that's when they become themselves.
There's a new heaven, a new earth,
around and about us--and not much
different from the better parts of the old.
We don't live there very often,
but when we do, eternity
ignites in a moment, light in the larches
that shines. And shines.

© 2014, Paul J. Willis. Used with the author's permission.


  1. Thank you for sharing Paul's beautiful poem. Love it.

  2. An aside, we have larches here in Maine, though they are known as Tamaracks here.
    This is a very soothing poem. Thanks for introducing us.

  3. I love that you found a poem that "shines" for you, Dori, and it is wonderful, "I have a sense that she's okay,/and that I am too" is such a steady, peaceful line. Thanks for sharing it, and about those poets in residence. What a joy that would be!

  4. For someone who lived at 140 Larch Road for more than 15 years of my youth, you'd think I'd know all about the Larch. Pretty much all I know I've just learned from your post today. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem and photograph, Dori.

  5. Had to laugh at Michelle's comment :-)
    Great shiny poem, Dori. I especially like "eternity
    ignites in a moment"

  6. Such a perfect poem for you, Doraine, and so happy you shared with us! (With thanks to the poet.) Fellow Southerner that I am, I'd never heard of a larch tree either. Gorgeous photo, too.

  7. Love this line: "I've come to believe.
    Things and people pass away--
    but that's when they become themselves." I sent this poem on to a friend who recently lost her mother. There is light.

  8. Thanks for sharing this beautiful and shining poem. The lines that resonated with me:
    "We don't live there very often,
    but when we do, eternity
    ignites in a moment..."

    Recognizing those radiant moments is so much a matter of living with one's eyes open.

  9. This poem is beautiful, Dori. The line that jumped out at me was "eternity ignites in a moment." Ignites-shines-inspirational...