This is a picture of midsummer in North Florida. For those who do not already know, the resurrection fern is a plant that lives on tree boughs and seems lifeless in dry spells but turns green and lush after a summer rain. After a long dry spell, we seem to finally be in gully-washer season again, and the resurrection fern is the first sign of that transition. Hurricanes can’t be far behind. Thanks for coming by to read.
Scion of the dusty droughts
And deepest nights of indigo,
It springs–a grayish silhouette,
A dry and curly carpeting–
Upon the oak, midsummer,
While the sun beats down, without complaint,
And the lizards’ tongues, they curl and spike,
As if to grab a drop of water
From the air, and seize it, like
A wee, cud-chewing grasshopper,
Who lollygags midair.
This shaggy carpet, gray as death–
About to drop from every height
Like Spanish moss–it clings on tight
And covers branches like a rash.
A squirrel grabs a fig, near-dried,
Though just turned ripe, and feels it ooze
Gelatinous upon its palate.
Others dare to sip the pool’s
Clear waters, though it stinks of salt–
To bathe in it, a human wish–
Useless, this, for thirsty drinking,
Or for housing swimming fish.
But in the sky, accumulating,
Cumulous and thunderhead,
The cushions of the gods are gathered
For a raucous pillow fight.
And birds stop chirping in the trees,
Cicadas, silent, mute with fright,
And thunderbolts are hurled and rain dumps down,
To make the darkness light.
And in the morning, fresh,
As only summer mornings long to be,
The resurrection fern unfurls
God’s emerald carpet ‘cross the tree.
Copyright 2022 Andrea LeDew
For another Southern scene, read the tiny story The Third Degree. For a taste of a drippy Key West barroom, read Ice Don’t Keep.
Thank you for this lovely poem as well as botanic enlightenment! Like Liz, I‘ve never seen or even known about that fern—thanks for the photo as well. That resurrection must be a hope-inspiring sight indeed.
Im very much in favor or new beginnings and second chances in life, so its nice to see it in Nature!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a resurrection fern. (Or if I have, I didn’t know what it was.)
They are lovely and very surprising, as if a garden had been planted and grew up overnight while you were sleeping. Its a kind of jewelry that these old oaks like to wear, to cover all the wrinkles and scars. 😊
I could use some of that jewelry myself. 😉
Not to be too mornid, but we will all be wearing green eventually, like it or not! 😊
Up here, that would be lichen.