MARYLAND SENIOR POET LAUREATE
Ron Ballard

IN THE HEDGE APPLE FOREST

I


Motionless, a tall doe lingers by thin saplings,
Her tan body streaked by slivers of sun. I
Don't move, taking in this blessing until
She jumps across my vision, absorbed
In the hedge apple forest again.

II


Beige, brown, black limbs hang down
With green curtains of sun-speckled leaves.
Lonely fawns sleep on short grass beds,
While I follow familiar lanes longing
To see high white tails swinging through
Close growing saplings. Yet today
An absence blows in their leaves
Like the ghosts of retreating years.

Where are the green-necked pheasants?
Throbbing bull frogs croaking by still ponds?
Two-note bob whites? Dipping little blue birds?
No small snakes sunning on the trail; no
Youthful turtles inching their destinies.
Absence and stillness where a past
Abundance played. Orchestras of insects,
Reptiles, birds, exiled in a lost history.

Ron Ballard
Hagerstown, Maryland
RON BALLARD, 71, Hagerstown, holds many degrees, his final being Ph.D in Philosophy from University of Maryland in 1986. He is a retired professor of English and philosophy at Hagerstown Community College. He has written short stories, novels and poetry since 1991. His sign is Aquarius.