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.

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