I worked for years to convince grape vines to grow up my arbor. I imagined an arbor crisscrossed with verdant vines, heavy clusters of green and red grapes hanging down, and me sitting in a chair underneath, in grape-shade, pleasantly paralyzed by grape and wild flower and spice garden perfume. But the vines never grew more than a few feet high before turning brown and dying. Too much water? Not enough iron or acid to compensate for the alkaline soil? It no longer matters. The grape arbor became my bird arbor, hosting many pretty species year-round.
Bird feeders swing empty from nails pounded in the arbor.
After years of compost, fertilizer, water, and iron,
the vines still grow sickly and yellow, vines that grow no grapes.
I once dreamed of the arbor covered in a dense green,
with plump, hanging clusters of white and purple grapes.
Bird houses nailed to the arbor sit vacant,
the entrance holes too large or two small, too high or too low,
or too exposed to climbing cats,
vacant but for teaming yellow jackets that relish dark nooks.
The finches prefer the spiny blue spruce nearby.
Who knows where the sparrows and blackbirds live?
But they visit by the hundred, chirping and chasing, cracking at shells.
I must fill the swinging feeders
for the little birds that descend to my empty arbor.
Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.