old mans beard.


Old Man’s Beard

What we failed to see
was twines of the wild clematis
climbing all summer
through each burdened tree:

Not till the leaves were gone
did we begin to take
the measure of what strength
had fed from the limestone

That roof of feathered seed
bearding the woods now
in its snowy foliage
yet before fall of snow

And what silent cordage bound
the galaxy together where
December light reflected
from star on hairy star

Innumerably united
in a cascade, a cloud, a wing
to hang their canopy above
the roots they were strangling.

By    Charles Tomlinson