sugaring time {a poem}

steam fills the sugar house until the ceiling
is lost in a white haze
and the enticing aroma of maple
wafts out across the dormant gardens

as the sap winds its way through the pans
from clear and bubbling to golden and frothy
we stoke the raging inferno beneath it
and wait for it to reach the proper density
those brief moments when we open a valve
and syrup trickles out

we stand in the heat and the steam
talking and smelling and tasting
and can easily imagine
generations before us
doing the same


the stream {a poem}

the stream has been calling to me
in its calm, rushing voice from
the shallow gully it has patiently
worked into the wooded ground
with the snowmelt that swells it
year after year after decade

I think it wanted me to see
that the world had been transformed
from a soft, quiet landscape
that the snow and its magic
had receded to reveal once again
the earth and all its small miracles
a blank canvas replaced by
moss and wilted ferns startlingly green
against a muted leaf carpet

and trees once again dominate
this landscape of color
while the dancing stream loudly celebrates
its release from ice
in hopes that wandering feet will
wend their way through the inviting trunks
of brown and green and flaky paper
to find themselves at its meandering bank

and perhaps let fingers caress its surface,
recognize that it, too, is a part of the forest


unwritten {a poem}

they tickle the fringes of my mind
whispering from somewhere deep
within my soul
feather-light words
not yet formed
pleading for entrance, for a pen
to give them shape
and yet they tease--
or perhaps they're just shy--
flitting out of reach
at any attempt to grasp their meaning
countless nameless poems
known only by my subconscious soul


the wheel of heaven {a poem}

segmented branches of trees
against a backdrop of sky
shafts of sunlight
wafting smoke
crystalline frost
(receding with morning's fire)
a glimpse upward


clay jar {a poem}

I am an empty vessel
a clay jar
and though the world tries to fill me
with greed and hate and pride
God has already planted within my soul
seeds of love and mercy and hope
my only task
to nurture them and
share the bountiful harvest
of the indescribable treasure
that is God's Light
with all whom I meet
though it may be but a smile
or a kind word
for it is through humble acts
that God changes the world

(2 Cor. 4:6-7)


invasive species {a poem}

wal-mart is an invasive weed
dominating the landscape
like kudzu or autumn olive
choking out the native plants
slowly, almost irreversibly, marring
an entire ecosystem


devouring and savoring {mini book reviews}

Earlier this month, I set my Goodreads goal to a humble 36 books, my intent being to read two novels and one work of nonfiction each month, and to savor every book. Evidently, I'm much better at devouring novels--though I seem to be savoring my current nonfiction book quite well, which I am still only partway through. I somehow managed to read six novels in the month of January, and since I loved nearly all of them, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on each one, in case you might enjoy them, too. (You may notice that I have only five listed here--I also read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I plan to dedicate an entire post to reviewing the HP series later on.)

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds #4)
by Robin Hobb

This is a great conclusion to a great series. (If you haven't read the first three books, start here. And then read book two. And so on.) Lives are saved, lives are taken, and people learn to stand up for themselves, as well as for each other. I loved watching the characters grow and change and become themselves throughout this series. Blood of Dragons has fewer cliffhanger chapter endings and slightly less (non-graphic) sexual content than the previous three books, but it is still there. I highly recommend The Rain Wilds Chronicles!

4/5 leaves

Breed of Giants
by Joyce Stranger

Despite my small stature, I am hopelessly attracted to large things--books, trees, horses. . . . So there was no question when I found this small (ironically) novel about the largest horse breed as to whether I would buy it. It exceeded my expectations. Breed of Giants is a beautiful tribute to Shire horses and the people who keep this draft breed alive even in modern times. This clean, romance-free horse story for adults (yes, you read that right--feel free to do a happy dance) includes animal perspectives, such as that of Brock the badger, without anthropomorphizing, and the human characters are colorful yet realistic.

5/5 leaves

Castle Waiting (Volume I)
by Linda Medley

This serendipitous library find is perhaps the first graphic novel I've ever read. An omnibus, it attracted me with its immense size, green spine, and intriguing title. Inside, it contains a fun fantasy with nods to classic fairy tales, and yet the story itself is entirely unique. The equally unique characters are easy to empathize with--I can hardly begin to pick a favorite. Though I wouldn't categorize this book as religious fiction, Peace, being a nun, has a Christian theme to her tale. This squeaky-clean graphic novel does have a few mature scenes that might go over the heads of younger readers.

5/5 leaves

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

I enjoyed reading about the (fictional) experience of an Indian immigrant in the U.S.--the cultural contrasts, the very real emotions, the methods of coping in a place that is not home, the themes of family and loneliness. Ashima's story drew me into this novel, her unique perspective dominating the beginning. However, the book quickly switches to her son's point-of-view and remains there for most of the book, and I found his character bland and almost boring. I enjoyed the overarching story, and the ending was very good, but I just didn't click with the main protagonist.

2.5/5 leaves

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
by Rachel Hartman

This second book in the Seraphina duology about humans, dragons, and half-dragons, and their struggle to coexist--or not---is brilliantly and artfully woven together. Pieces fell into place as part of schemes I couldn't have imagined, though it all made perfect sense. There were also many grey areas; I found myself asking, Is the antagonist was really a villain, or a tragic victim of circumstance? Although I didn't at all like how the love-triangle was "solved," the ending of this novel was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful.

4/5 leaves


What does the Lord require of you? {a poem}

What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Mourn,
for they will be Comforted.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness,
for they will be filled.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Pure in Heart,
for they will see God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are the Peacemakers,
for they will be called Children of God.
What does the Lord require of you?
Blessed are those who are Persecuted for Righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
What does the Lord require of you?
He has shown you.
Do justice.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly with your God.

(from Matthew 5:3-10 and Micah 6:8)



When I introduced Poetry Thursday and reinstated Wordless Wednesday a few months ago, I realized that many of my readers didn't understand why my book blog is titled Poetree. The simple answer is this: Poetree was never intended to be a book blog. But that is what it has evolved into, and I have grown weary of it--weary of writing nonsense about things that don't matter, of showing off books that I've acquired and pictures that I've taken all of the sake of receiving praise and gaining ever more followers. This hobby has become a chore, another item to check off my too long to-do list, and so I took some time to re-evaluate.

My brainstorming session didn't last long, but I jotted down several lists with headings like purpose, content, post ideas, timing. . . . And then I wrote "Poetree" in the center of the page, and these five words emerged below it:


That is the heart of Poetree. I'm going back to the roots of this dear blog, though you won't be seeing the poem-a-day that began it (check out some of my earliest posts if you want to see what I mean). Going forward, I will use this space--every Wednesday--to share poetry, musings, inspiration, and, of course the occasional bookish post. Soul scribbles from the journey of life.


(almost) success! {bookshelf love}

I almost completed my reading challenge before Christmas! I gave myself 14 weeks to read these 10 books, from September 19 to December 25, and I read nine of them--which, honestly, is more than I had expected to finish. Unfortunately, I've only written one review so far, so all titles except The Unexpected Dragon link to Goodreads.

Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop
The Unexpected Dragon by Mary Brown
Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Did you participate in any reading challenges in 2016? How did you do? What are your reading goals this year?