The pussy willow showed its furry catkins
early during a warm February week and
are now covered with heavy March snow.
We want to be optimistic. The universe
sometimes agrees – and sometimes laughs at us.
April: wild Jack was in his pulpit,
wrapped in a leafy hood and hidden
from our view, preaching a foul sermon
that attracted only pollinating flies to him.
September: transformed into too-early poisonous Christmas ornament.
With its odd flower and ugly fruit
appearing at chilly Halloween, as a boy
I thought a witch named Hazel bewitched
the plant. Wych Hazel, bent twigs as divining rods,
the essence bottled in our medicine cabinet.
As Wych Elm (from “wiche” meaning bendable) twigs were used in England as divining rods, the New World hazel plant took the name and by that folk etymology may have influenced the “witch” part of the now common witch hazel name.