Carol Moldaw

First Days at the Conservancy
March 20, 2023 Moldaw Carol

First Days at the Conservancy


I’m looking out the window—Paula’s window—
at the palms whose names I still don’t and might never know,
trying to decipher
within the rustling, the susurrous rustling,
the distinct sound
the specific tonality
the wind stirs up in any one variety—
each palm its own instrument and the wind expert in them all—
but my ear can’t pick out individual strands
from the overarching swell of the whole.


Poetry in the morning, planting in the afternoon:
I can almost imagine it
though it’s not my way—
don’t even eat the same breakfast twice in a row—
all around me the inner lushness of it manifest
in the palm garden’s forested jungle,
wild with native palms and palms brought in,
underscored by Paula’s understory
of ti-plants and fern and myrtle spurge;
manifest in the sheafs of poems grown from syllable-seeds
and a custom mix of attention and inattention,
amassed into books and dispersed through the world.


Each palm William—or Merwin to me, who didn’t know him—
each palm he planted he said was planting a poem
and surely he approved of the way the two words chime,
the inner pith of each with its own texture:
the palm’s creaminess; the long o of a chanted om
in the first skipping stone of poem’s two-syllable drop
down its wishing well.
A palm, methodically transported
from pot to ground in the palm of the hand;
a poem growing as if with a flick of the fingers.


Carol Moldaw’s 7th book of poems, Go Figure, will be published by Four Way Books in 2024. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Photo credit: Don Usner