A friend and former teaching colleague of mine, Patti Hardee Donnelly, is a superb photographer whose work I’ve long admired. A small offshoot of her photography has been her finding small HEARTS in many forms in nature and in life. I am often surprised, frequently amused, and always delighted by what Patti comes across in her daily life. This summer she posted this beautiful picture of an old tree stump she came across very early one morning on her daily run. I was mesmerized by the beauty of it, the color and texture and most of all by the image I saw within the heart. I know that if I had been walking that path that morning, I would have totally missed this beautiful creation of nature.

Thank you, Patti, for your amazing photo and talent. It immediately inspired me to write this poem, which is dedicated to you.

I’ve recorded an audio of me reading this poem. To hear it, simply click on the link below. It will take a few seconds before it begins.


Heartwood (photo by Patti Hardee Donnelly © 2014)


                        ~for Patti Hardee Donnelly


This heartwood is no more
Than a bit of grey crackling,
More a silvered wood fungus

Than what was once the lifeline
Of a tree, an umbilical hotline
From the sun to the leaves

Down to roots fastened in earth.
Now this aging heart of wood
Reveals elegant scalloped wings,

An angel dancing, a floor
Made of rough pine straw
Softening her delicate steps.

In the silence of morning,
I glimpsed an angel,
But you found her heart.