Catherine Arra 


Lush are the gardens this year:
rhododendrons plumped pink
azalea bells ringing white jubilee
variegated fern, purple lamium, woodruff
footing baptisia & flax spiking blue
into daybreak, haloed green.

I will not be disappointed if next year’s garden
(as I was in last year’s) is less.
I will not harbor expectations, make comparisons.

I will live each year like this:
sometimes fertile, festive
other times a mere pass at respectable, and then
drought, blight, ghostly fungi, insects;
a root to crown weeding of what cannot be sustained.  





Ballet of Palms

To have the resilience of palms
lift, sway, backbend, hula
a streaming mane curling 
long necks of wind, then
a ponytail, pigtails, tight French twist
budding flora unfurling, flattening
pedaling up and down 
ocean in crescendo, crest, calamitous cascade
or still as moon in lagoon sky.

To be as force and fond desire
supple before disaster.





Seasons & Envy

Sweet friend, so good to see you again
lilies opening earth with determined fingers
fuzzy crew cuts on newborn phlox
emerald lace on honeysuckle.

Your brooding relative has overstayed his welcome
greedy for your green, ravenous for your milk, but
you remain generous. Rather than face you
he slinks back underground, an icy snake

melting into stony fissures.
He coils into caverns littered with carcasses
of motherless fawns, anxious robins, but 
you are forgiving.

You know he will wait there
& you know this too: his waiting, his night.
You know he is unrivaled & abandoned.
You alone are the cocktail that becomes his poison.

Still, you are gracious, would invite him to stay
accommodate him in grassy carpets, daffodils
offer champagne, leave chocolates on his pillow.
How wonderful you are. Or is this your greatest cruelty

knowing he would perish trying?
Am I kinder to simply wish him gone
having known his darkness, picked at his bones
while you vacationed in the Bahamas?

Better I should dream of faraway places, where 
he is the alien, an accident of nature, without friends
& not I.





Catherine Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York where she lives with wildlife and the magic of seasons until winter . . . Then she migrates to Florida’s Space Coast to commune with alligators, palms trees, and the occasional rocket. Find her at