“A City Dweller Dwells on Nature,” “A Spirit in the Woods,” and “Of Writing and Flying”

In Issue 65 by Olga Dugan

“A City Dweller Dwells on Nature,” “A Spirit in the Woods,” and “Of Writing and Flying”

Photo by Lapa Smile on Shutterstock

A City Dweller Dwells on Nature

(for Ola M. Dugan)

I read somewhere nature doesn’t matter

to city dwellers—not so, did you know

flowers appeared 140 million years ago

Tulips out-valued gold in some places

Orchids draw their nutrients from thin air

and flowers, they really do have powers—

when I was a young girl, Mrs. Meers

had a chairlift installed, her porch-gates

parted like the Red Sea to fit between

lifting stilts for the mechanism, while her

front yard, pasture green, got paved over

with white cement the sun baked and baked

but soon Artemisia, silver lime, Creeping

Phlox and Jenny grew clean out of cracks

in her white pavement and neighborhood kids

took to wandering an imagined mountain side

or ardent wood of Lilliputian trees and shrubs—

just weeks after Mrs. Meer’s chairlift came

Dad and friends on our block brought home

these planting-pots tortured out of spare

tires and plunked them in our front yards

I helped Mom and the other half-hearted

plant in them Impatiens, Dipladenia, Mom’s

Gallicas, their scent reaching the top step

where I took a rest, laughing as the women

joked about buying chairlifts and these ugly

old planting-pots being the first to go…

when they retired, Mom and Dad left me our

rowhouse and that spare-tire-turned-planting-pot

but Mom’s roses still taking root, pinks, purples,

reds, southern-sun yellows give it more value

than gold to me—along with several other

memory-makers that will always matter

A Spirit in the Woods

(for Julie L. Moore)

Tree of Heaven

smooth, hazel bark

one stout twig, heart-

shaped-leaf-scarred

pointing—convicts me

for times I dared to travel

soulless wonderless departing

arriving departing arriving

mind bare, face bland—but

a second chance naturally

follows the tenacious tree’s

dogged demand on my

attention, so I sandal-up

step outside the motel room

to see, listen, learn

early evening breeze

tempers July heat, I sit

among Little Lanterns

hedging the rocky curb

face a mountain range till

rugged blue ridges, milk-

mist waves of rounded

weathered peaks lure

thoughts down thirty-three

hundred feet towards

Mom’s Georgia woods

a ways from town, then off

the dirt road, and an

amble into Cousin George

Morrell’s healing garden

here her Grandad gathers

roots of Yarrow, Black-Eyed

Susans, Sourwood to mix

cure-alls from cough to croup

while a pretty girl, no clue

she’ll be my mother, uses

paints made out of berries

spectrums of Coreopsis

Dandelions, Morning Glories

Lilac to layer a pink and gold

on lavender sunrise— 

and though she’s traded

pigtails for styles more

becoming hair grown

rain-cloud gray, she often

recalls what her woods taught—

the tranquility of snow-covered

trails, the calm of light blue

to violet Bellflowers, Foxglove,

Columbine with wild roses

sunning near the shears

the humble give of reeds

reaching past murky waters

bending westward into air

flaxen gold and burnt sienna

the very hues of the horizon

now framing my blue ridge

mountains’ slow retreat

leaving me a peace

deep at heart, and yet—a soul

full of awe and wonder at how

my mother’s Georgia woods

still shape their drifting face

Of Writing and Flying

beyond the sun’s sinking beyond evening’s edge

she makes remarkable the moment she almost

drowned in a lull of silence, silent as paper sounds

when one chances heights too high for writers

yet to earn real wings—

all disheveled, self-heavy, she could not fly, just

hovered then stalled over turbulent drafts, half-

thoughts before plunging into a whirl of muddle

pages on pages flooding her desk, no heart

nor story among them

this would’ve been her end had the wind not called—

rattling the window pane, a gust-like breathing

she began to listen for, until hearing what she thought

but could not name—now, writing processes

the writer, who trusts the breath that brings a humbler

heart back in sync with the mind’s slower sway

back to what strikes in her marrow as story

sure of the air’s goodness to lift her and whatever

she’s gathered of light, the writer records in allusions

to the colorful faith of Asters, in tones hopeful

as Sword Lilies, rhythms sharp as the flight feathers

of a mourning dove’s wings, in moods charitable

as the Iris, gentle as a Snowdrops’ tepals, the rise

of an artist from art’s anywhere, ready to soar

beyond the sun’s sinking beyond evening’s edge

on to understanding and song

About the Author

Olga Dugan

Olga Dugan is a Cave Canem poet. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, her poems appear or are forthcoming in Channel (Ireland), Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith, Grand Little Things, The Windhover, The Sunlight Press, E-Verse Radio, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Southern Quarterly, Kweli, Ekphrastic Review, Tipton Poetry, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, Origins, Poems from Pandemia – An Anthology, Cave Canem Anthology: XIII, and Red Moon Anthology of Modern English Haiku. Articles on poetry and cultural memory appear in The Journal of African American History, The North Star, and in Emory University's “Meet the Fellows.”