Paradigm of a January Day
Temperature in the teens,
the sun dazzles in
a cloudless, cobalt sky.
From a sturdy wooden bridge
I watch the creek below
find its way west.
The days before this one have been
mild, the creek just now freezing,
a scrim of ice forms
along the banks. Yet dark,
and glossy water still flows
through the constricted strait.
I see in a flash my fear for the future—
that age and diminishment will narrow
my channel, that worry
will freeze me in
from the edges.
My heart choked.
I hear a verbal counter in my head:
Age will bring wisdom and a wider view,
a deeper channel, a more generous heart.
Stay vigilant, break the ice early
when you can.
Though I cannot choose my season,
thaws will come even in winter,
and the creek will be fed
by the melting snow.
The elm tree stands straight
and still in winter’s thrall.
Uplifted arms naked now,
base skirted by deep snow,
she has suspended growth
to survive the frigid cold
and blizzards of this
Shallow feeder roots sent out
across the topsoil to find easy
moisture on summer days
have died in the frozen ground.
But even in the harshest season
her taproot burrows deeper.
Drawn to the warmth
of the earth’s core,
she seeks new wellsprings
of sweet water.
Unquestioning, she trusts
her own wisdom to guide
her dark winter’s work.
Spring bud break will come soon,
and grounded support.
squirrels clatter up
the elm’s trunk, a chickadee
lights for a moment
in her branches,
while she sleeps,
To the Humble Mycelium
Underneath our feet
a network of fine white threads
spreads in the soil,
eco-systems depend on
these vast colonies of bacteria
to feed nutrients to fungi.
A twenty-four-hundred-acre site
of continuous growth of mycelium
was found in eastern Oregon,
the largest organism on the planet
until a logging road cut through it.
We are as connected
as the mycelium beneath us,
our eco-system of invisible threads
of energy and compassion.
Yet we have allowed logging roads
to divide us into camps,
paint the surface illusion that
we are separate,
that we can survive without each other.
Karen Hurley Kuchar is a leadership coach and consultant to nonprofits. As a
life-long writer and reader, she is fascinated by both the power and beauty of
words. A time of transition in her life was the source of many poems, which are
published in a collection entitled, Consider the Lobster.
Her professional career included both counseling and administrative roles in nonprofit social service organizations. She lives with her husband in Downers Grove. In addition to her work and writing, she enjoys her grandchildren and spends time in nature, which
provides inspiration for many of her poems.
Karen is President of the board of Anawim Arts and facilitates the Wisdom
Writing Circles in collaboration with Tau Center.