This year it’s a salamander gratitude—
something found under rosy, painted stones upended
on the damp bed of a dead river.
It’s alive but mute, a form of life
discovered to your surprise
but somehow oddly soothing.
Already the same heavy frosts
of loss that killed the showy
vines of squash have begun
sweetening the buried parsnips
and solitude has introduced you
to a friend you never thought
your busy-self would meet:
Strangely enough, you rather enjoy
each other’s company.
The summer-dying, goose-flying, daylight-winding
might give these blazing maples
a fearsome hue
(already too many trees have died
in successive tidal waves of fire)
but perhaps the lesson is not yet through,
and the deepest homework we still have to do
is where we’ll learn the most.
This year it’s an amphibian gratitude cool to the touch,
not your shout-it-from-the-fencepost
redwing blackbird kind of thanks;
perhaps a little slower felt
perhaps a little less quick
to fly flashing away.
–Greg Kennedy SJ is a Jesuit priest working as a spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. His prayer often takes the form of poetry. Care of creation is central to his vocation. You can find his new book Amazing Friendships Between Animals and Saints here.