Sunday, December 14, 2014

"The Elderberry Tree"

Koehler's Medicinal Plants 1887

The Elderberry Tree

Grandma planted her elders
close to kitchen's back door -
not for summer fritters
(doily white flowers
dipped in flour & fried),
nor for fall cordial
(purple berry clusters
plucked before songbirds could dine).

She faithfully watered
(never pruned) these "old bent ladies"
to keep the Devil at bay.

And I, each Midsummer's Eve
silently stand alone,
magic hovers upon my lips,
pluck an unripe berry or two,
dare not breathe nor move,
but listen -
have yet to see magical faeries
and elves hidden within, or receive
the gift of second sight.

by Margaret Bednar, December 14, 2014

This is for the poetic challenge at "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Sunday's Mini-Challenge - poet James Wright"  I used the following excerpt from his poem "Beginning" as inspiration to spin my own poem:

"…I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen…"

The elder tree (or shrub) is rich in folklore, superstition, and Christian legend. 


Björn Rudberg said...

I had not heard about the magic in the elder.. But I do love them.. Especially the flowers that we use for a syrup to make drinks of... But the magic part would be a good reason.

kaykuala said...

You've now cleared it up for me, Ma'am! My interpretation of the line is sorely mistaken. The elder is just a bush apparently. I thought it meant a big tree. I don't know if we have a similar specie in our region here.

But you must admit the line is classic. Somehow I could detect something exquisite about it. That is why I chose it. Thanks Marge. It is an education for me.

You did it very well to relate it to what grandma had passed over to you. It is very clear now!


Grace said...

I never knew that about the superstition and gifts of the elderberry tree ~ I admire the seasonal flowering during summer and fall; it must be magical to see them anyway ~ James lines weaved seamlessly with yours ~

Thanks for participating in the Sunday's challenge and wishing you happy weekend ~

R.K. Garon said...

Sweet! What a wonderful story.

TexWisGirl said...

pretty neat. :)

Fireblossom said...

Keep waiting and watching, it could still happen!

I'm sorry for being scarce, dear friend. I've been awfully ill.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love the magic and the folklore in this piece. Beautifully done!

Anonymous said...

not for summer fritters
(doily white flowers
dipped in flour & fried),

I never heard of this - would love to try it. I love this poem.

Susie Clevenger said...

To breathe folklore into your piece makes it a bit of magic. Beautiful

hyperCRYPTICal said...

A magical write indeed.
I wouldn't mind trying the fritters...
Anna :o]

Kerry O'Connor said...

So lovely, Margaret. You have spun together both past and present, with a hint of future at the end.

Amrit Sinha said...

Fairies will come for sure. Magic is real :-)

Poet Laundry said...

I didn't know all the these beliefs about the elderberry. I like your childhood imagination and the fritters and cordial sound good, ha! I went "Grandma" with my response to the challenge too. Very enjoyable read, Margaret.

Wolfsrosebud said...

beautiful visuals in this... did you know that in Wisconsin, one day in early September, the bird come to strip the berry from their branches... the also taste wonderful in pancakes

Kim Russell said...

This is wonderful, Margaret, especially the way you shift so elegantly from those delicious-sounding summer fritters and fall cordial of Grandma's kitchen to the "old bent ladies" and the Devil, to then charm us with Midsummer magic, threading the original lines in so expertly.