by Cammy Thomas
Agnus castus, “chaste lamb,” long-limbed shrub
in my neighbor's yard. Known from antiquity, it lifts
its purple spears to the hummingbirds. The ocean
is not far, the air buzzing and salty, bees
from the hive up the hill buried in every bloom.
Chaste lamb, Abraham's balm, monk's pepper
from the Mediterranean, it visits this colder climate
to shake our frozen muscles and remind us
to stay pure. The bees may milk it, flavor their
honey with it, but for us, it's always upright.
Its leaves like hands, five on a bract,
a perfect, neutral green, a color-wheel
green, calm and plain. They shift in the wind
as the bees come off and resettle. The trunk
is slender and lit by low sun.
Could I grow this pure, this straight,
this beautifully colored, so effortlessly--
just the sun and there I would be, reaching
without striving, watered by a benevolent
spirit who can appear and disappear
while I remain rooted, extending
upward yearly from my fertile bed.
Cammy Thomas’ first book of poems, Cathedral of Wish, received the 2006 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her second book, Inscriptions, will be out in October, 2014. Both are published by Four Way Books. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Appalachia, Bateau, The Classical Outlook, The Healing Muse, and Ibbetson Street Press #30. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and teaches English at Concord Academy.