Praise Song

by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.

From Radiance. Word Press, 2005.

Read this and other poems by Barbara Crooker in Radiance, available for purchase online.

I resonate with the stubborn optimism of this poem, the way the speaker seems to be convincing herself, with the repetition of the word, “praise,” over and over, that there’s still beauty in “what little there’s left” at the end of November, before winter sets in. I can imagine her standing outside and looking around, taking in “the small boats of milkweed pods,” and naming both the “dried weeds” of the meadow, as well as the leaves fallen from “Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,/Sugar Maple.” Her litany of praise suggests that if we too get close enough to notice and name what’s directly around us, we might mor