Karen Kuchar

Slow Trees

Precocious bloomers, those
trees that blossom first
then grow leaves,
magnets for the attention
of the color-starved.
Bradford pears drop petals
like May snow,
crabapples flocked in pink,
fuchsia-limbed redbuds
sparkle against the new-green
leaves of maples and lindens.
And then there are the late to leaf
who cause us to wonder
if they survived the winter.
The beleaguered ash, will it sprout
at all this year?
The larch sports tiny green fizz
at the tips of its branches.
Oaks, still groggy from winter slumber,
bare but for nubs of hope.
I take comfort in the slow trees,
unhurried by the surge of Spring,
they leaf like me on our own schedule.
Come June we will be in full-leaf,
drinking summer rain
in great gulps,
waving at the passersby—
poised and self-assured,
we had it all the way.

Birds of Winter

A slate gray junco waits
on a branch frosted with snow
for a clear landing spot at the feeder.
It doesn’t take long,
the black-capped chickadee
pecks in a porthole,
selects a seed it likes
then flies nearby
to crack it and eat.
The junco hops around the rim,
inspects the seed selection,
chooses, stays, finds another.
The black-and-white striped
woodpecker with red plume
dances up the tree trunks;
but every now and then
lands heavy at the feeder
for an easy snack.
Fine, silent snow falls
during this afternoon meal.
A few days ago, the temperatures
plunged, double-digits below zero.
Yet the birds of winter did this same routine.
Did they notice?
Do they prefer
sunny skies and warmer temps?
Do they chirp complaints in their nests at night,
huddled, the day ended by the early dark?
I think not.
Each one is present to this day,
has a strategy for this weather.
They waste no time on judgment
or comparison.
No energy on mood or disappointment.
This is the day.
This is the day.
This day


Mother’s Day tense
with expectation.
Will they call?
Send a gift? I remember
those early adult years,
life consumed with
concerns so removed
from the home left behind
and people whose love
I took for granted.
I stand now in-between—
knowing my mother’s pain,
helpless against
the wave of my own.
Generational misses
repeat themselves.
And then from their father
a surprise gift,
a redbud,
my favorite tree.
Spindly yet sizeable,
early spring blossoms
of impossible pink
hug branches out to each twig.
We plant it together
in the backyard,
roots deep
in this nurturing earth.
Its yearly blooms
reminders of love
we can take for granted.

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.

She holds a Master of Counseling Psychology from George Williams College.  Her professional career included both counseling and administrative roles in nonprofit social service organizations.  During her time as executive director of Family Shelter Service, she worked with a volunteer group to encourage clients to write about their experiences.  Two published anthologies contain survivor stories of heartbreak as well as the resilience of the human spirit, Wings for the Soul and Storms Inside the House.

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 Tao Center.

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