by Joe Cottonwood

Always an embarrassment, my father,
a bow-tie guy and president for Pete’s sake
of the Daffodil Society
so when he fenced a corner of the yard
and filled it with yellow bouquets wilted,
with grass clippings and moldy leaves of elm
wafting an odor like an old sponge,
it was another sad fact to hide about my family
until the dry winter day I saw steam rising.

With friend Jimmy I jumped in,
made burrows, caves,
prairie dogs in a warm hill of decay
spreading chaos which my father
must have cleaned later.

Some gone days like wilted bouquets
grow warm.

PHOTO: Leaf compost by Yves Bernardi.

Cottonwood and Pine

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: An ancient oak tree fell at my children’s school. The arborist cut and chipped. After the next rainfall, a mound of wood chips wafted steam. The scent was the trigger. As a child I thought an old sponge. The scent so sharp yet rich and deep I could now recognize as of an old whiskey barrel. I placed my hand inside the mound and yes, so warm. After decades dormant, this memory poured into my cup, and I drank.

PHOTO: Joe Cottonwood at the intersection of Cottonwood and Pine.

Joe & redwood 300

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book is Random Saints. You can find him (and his poems) on Facebook. Visit him at joecottonwood.com.