THREE POEMS FOR EARTH DAY by April Halprin Wayland (April is National Poetry Month and Earth Day is the 22nd)

I love this photo of my dad by the Feather River that ran beside our farm

I love this photo of my dad by the Feather River that ran beside our farm

My father was a farmer. He worked and wrote all his life to protect the people,  animals, land and waters of our world.

He farmed acres and acres of walnut trees, but Daddy also planted experimental rows of peanuts, to see if they would grow in our sandy soil. When rabbits began eating the young plants, Daddy wouldn’t poison the rabbits. He figured out another way to protect those peanuts.

PROTECTING THE PEANUTS

“The rabbits,” my dad said,

“are eating the peanut plants

in our garden.”

 

He puzzled over this on the hot tractor,

dragging the disk up and back

thinking about jack rabbits.

 

“One thing we know,”

he said, chewing a peanut butter sandwich,

“is rabbits are afraid of people.”

 

So, he made a scarecrow—

a scarerabbit.

Even gave it his old straw hat.

 

But the next morning

he wrinkled his brow.

“Those darn rabbits,” is all he said.

 

He pondered all morning on the tractor.

“One thing we know,” he said, sipping ice cold ginger ale,

“is rabbits are afraid of the smell of people.”

 

So, he ripped up pieces of his old khaki shirt,

tied them to sticks, and stuck those sticks between the rows of peanut plants.

Looked like a little parade.

 

Who cares,

said the rabbits that night.

We’re not scared.

 

Back disking those long rows in the morning,

Dad deliberated, contemplated, meditated,  ruminated, and speculated.

About rabbits.

 

Then, he took a

big aluminum bucket

and peed in it.

 

Added some water

and dribbled a line of demarcation

around the peanuts.

 

The rabbits

got

the picture.

 

“One thing we know,” he said with a wide smile,

“is that people can be as smart as rabbits.

Just give us time.”

Copyright © 2017 April Halprin Wayland. Used by permission of the author, who controls all rights.

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When he was a boy, Daddy said he stood in awe each fall as a massive wave of birds migrated over our farm.

ENDANGERED

My father says

that every fall when he was a boy

the sky blackened like some huge dark tongue

sticking out over our farm

as hundreds

 

no thousands of wood ducks or terns

flew overhead

in one great flock

hour after hour

all day long.

 

On the haystack, I am between my mother and my sister

On the haystack, I am between my mother and my sister

I am standing in this field searching the sky

waiting for that huge dark tongue.

I haven’t seen thousands

I haven’t seen hundreds

I haven’t seen

 

one bird.

Copyright © 2017 April Halprin Wayland. Used by permission of the author, who controls all rights.

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Like my father, I love this earth and work to protect it. Sometimes all it takes to begin is one small action.

LISTENING TO OUR OAK TREE

Do you flip your paper over

when you draw or make a list?

I do—our oak tree tells me to—

she’s gentle but insists.
“See this twig?” she asks me.

“A teensy weensy limb.

If you use the back of every page,

you’re saving one of him.
And his sister and her sister

and another limb until

one day you’ll save a grove of trees!

You’ll do it if you will
just use each paper’s blank side

april-waylandso saplings live for years.

You’ll grow up and you’ll change the world;

they’ll have long tree careers.”

Copyright © 2017 April Halprin Wayland. Used by permission of the author, who controls all rights.

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April Halprin Wayland is the author of seven books, including More Than Enough—a Passover Story, which has been praised by the New York Times, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, the gold medal-winning picture book, New Year at the Pier, and the award-winning novel in poems, Girl Coming in for a Landing. When she is not writing, April plays the fiddle, hikes with her dog, and advocates for world peace. Learn more at www.aprilwayland.com.

Her father’s name was Leahn J. Halprin.

 

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