Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

I could hear crickets once
and the chirps of city sparrows.
I was awash in sound
before the years spilled away.

A block of ice dragged along the gravel.
Mama slapping dough on the table top.
Water bubbling in the pasta pot.
Papa’s shoes squeaking up the stairs.

The scratch of metal jacks.
The slap of a rubber ball.
Friends laughing and calling
in the gathering dark.

Gone now —
except for a place within my skull
untouched by age or loss
where childhood memories overflow
when once I could hear crickets.

Some years ago, my elderly father asked me…

The joy of waking with the birds

Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

I retired a few years ago. (I still feel a thrill when I write those words!)

Through most of my working career, the only sound that could wake me up with any assurance on work mornings was the harsh ringing of my alarm clock.

But now, I wake up to music. Not the music from a clock radio or an app on my cell phone, but to the music of birds, singing outside my bedroom window.

Once, years ago, bird song spilled from the throats of countless birds at dawn. Their combined singing in the early morning reminded me of…

Will his urgent call be answered?

Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash

He was a very noisy hawk. An immature red-shouldered hawk, I believe. A youngster, trying not to be so young.

Perched on a naked branch of a dying oak, he never seemed to stop his clamorous calling. Never seemed to hunt, nor fly about, nor just sit Zen-like, waiting.

From the first light of dawn, through the hazy heat of the day, his calls seemed to grow more desperate.

As if he were pleading, yet at the same time announcing, “I am here. I am here. I am here.”

Day after day I listened a little sadly to his insistent…

Remember this moment

Photo by m wrona on Unsplash

Fireflies spark like Sulphur matches
brighter than the faint stars in the hazy sky.

On the screened porch I sprawl like a drowsy cat
protected from mosquitos and night-blind beetles.

High in the trees that circle the yard
like an amphitheater dedicated to the ancient arts,

the wind strums a lofty harp,
as the katydids and crickets tune their instruments.

Like a starched sheet, distant lightning snaps.
The humid air licks my face and limbs.

A restless breeze carries the scent of cottage roses,
and of memories laden with love and some regret.

Suspended in a tangled net, time falters.

One factor decides

Photo by Daria Gorbacheva on Unsplash

Cats hold the power
to sheath or unsheathe their claws.
Love helps them decide.

Someone once described kittens as fuzzy hugs…with razor blades on their feet. Anyone who has had even just one of those sharp claws hook into their skin knows this clever saying speaks the truth!

The Internet is full of funny videos and memes showing tiny kittens acting with outsized ferocity when they feel threatened. Instinct makes these little creatures know that their best defense are those curved scimitars hiding in their paws.

I have lived happily with many cats for more than fifty years. Each time…

Each of us must seek the light

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Like flowers tilting to the sun,
We all seek light.
We all need warmth.

Nothing thrives for long in strife.

Can we give ourselves permission
to reach for what we need;
to leave behind what hurts us

and cloak ourselves in love?

Some acts are universal.
The swelling of buds.
The casting of seeds.
The questing of roots.
The dropping of leaves.

Nothing need ever be wasted.

Each living cell on earth plays its part,
symbolic or symbiotic,
to nourish and preserve.

When will we learn to nurture ourselves?

The sun, the rain, and every caring voice
every spirit, every love-centered…

Let me tell you about mine

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I am sitting barefoot at the water’s edge
dangling my feet in a fast-running stream

watching bright-hued birds and dragonflies
flutter between the banks, while humming bees
and wandering butterflies probe their favorite flowers.

And I wonder, in my dream, do I know these birds?
Do I recognize these flowers? And does it matter
what I know, so long as I can feel this joy?

To be here. Perfectly at ease in this moment.
I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to forget this.
Oh surely this is where I belong?

I know this is a dream. A lucid, much-beloved dream.
All too soon I will awake. But I have faith
that like a cherished friend my favorite dream

Will circle ‘round and lead me back again
to the flowers, to the birds, to the butterflies.

What have we done?

Photo by Than Malar Selvan on Unsplash

Two of each to start.
Forever to roam the earth .
The ark is broken.

Whether we think of it as a metaphor or a biblical lesson, I think many of us would agree that we have failed as stewards of the world’s ark.

Every day more species become extinct or totter on the razor’s edge before plunging into the void from which there can be no return. I do not understand why so many people still doubt the truth of this. Or why so many are unmoved by the tragedy of our ever-shrinking ecosystem.

In my small corner of…

But in my memory they continue to sing.

Photo of a meadowlark by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

First to go was the Bobwhite.
I heard it all summer when first I moved to this town.

Bob-Bob WHITE! Bob-Bob WHITE!

How it made my heart glad to hear it.
Then it was gone.

There was a meadow where I loved to wander in the morning.
In early May a meadow lark would sing its haunting song.

Spring of the earth. Spring of the earth.

How it made my heart leap to hear it.
Then it was gone.

In those same fields before they were mown each summer,
Bobolinks balanced on the slender reeds of grass.

Impossible to put their rollicking songs to words.
Their joyful voices bubbled like water tumbling in a brook.

How it made my heart soar to hear it.
Then they were gone.

So often when someone we love leaves us or dies,
their voices…

Deborah Barchi

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.

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