The 99 Steps, St. Thomas Island

Morning Glory


If I cannot write of those tough snares,

the irremediable vines of my life,


I can write of the morning glory

in January, left to dry on the banister,

grown stiff yet animate as thin gourds

above the drifted snow.  How it


rang its dry bells in the bone-hard wind,

how the hundreds of small paper lanterns each

held its six black diamond seeds—

one of which could in spring

conquer the yard, defeat the mower,

steeped in cold water, open        


windows in the brain to high pastures,

gold granaries barely dreamt.       

How even though I wasn’t looking,

my head under a little indoor cloud,


the winter crone of the morning glory

kept faith with the season, waiting,

carefully holding its children, those precious

flints, suspended


above the white-hot glittering promise of the snow.





in Shenandoah

& in Buck and Wing: Southern Poetry at 2000,

    ed. R. T. Smith, Washington and LeeUniversity, 2000


& in Homeland