We are going down to Rio,
Down to Rio and the sea,
Where the gulls and clouds are flying
And the wind’s as free as we;
Where the golden sands are sparkling
And the white-capped billows roar,
As they tell their tales of pirates
On some strange and distant shore.
So we’re going down to Rio,
Down to Rio and the sea,
And the white-sailed ship a-waiting
Is the home of you and me.
Doris Ferm, April 1940
I sit within these prison walls
of brick, so sadly drab and drear,
And dream of days when ringing calls
of birds and chipmunks sounded near;
When trees were whisp’ring just to me,
and cowbells ringing from above,
With rushing water tumbling down,
And I was with the things I love.
The dewy lanes in morning’s mist,
A deer silhouetted against the sky;
They’re calling; all the woods insist.
I must go back! I must return!
But prison walls enclose me here;
False pride and honor bind me in.
I cannot go, but far and clear
the pine q des, sighing, call me home.
Doris Ferm, May 1940
Maybe we shall live again
To love and learn uncowed
by doubts and fears, more free
than this life has allowed.
Yet that grace may not be given;
This life may be complete –
So beautiful the earth,
So blessed my days and sweet.
Yellow flowers in bloom I saw
One warm November day;
But frozen in the week,
Forsythia turned gray.
So would I bloom in autumn,
And never count the cost,
To brighten one small spot
Before December frost.
Doris Ferm, 1982
Oh, Lovely World
Have you not seen the summer garb
of fields and trees, how green, how green?
And cypress knees,
The gold of dawn sends off the night,
With beams that shine, so bright, so bright.
They glint on stream
Oh, lovely world! I sense the Light
That gives me sight: How blessed, how blessed,
my life has seemed
Doris Ferm, February 1983
In Memory: May Taylor Bye
All down the misty years
I see her sewing in her rocking chair;
Each stitch binds with courage
The fabric of her life.
Across the gulf of time
I hear her laughter, smell the lavender,
And feel beneath soft cheek
The undergirding strength.
Still deep within my heart
I sense her loving undiminished; down
the generations trace
the image of her smile.
Doris Ferm, August 1983
Response to a Mother’s Day Card
Fine as spider silk the strands must be
When we would send our children down the wind;
Yet strong, so they can reel themselves back in
If gusty storms dismay.
Where sun and rain and care do gird the nest
In strength, the shining lines adorn the air,
Are anchored fast, and singing send
From afar the message,
“All is well.”
Doris Ferm, 1986
When Spring has Come Again
In every woodland flower I’ll see your face –
Frowning violets and the spurred ones,
White trillium, blue bells, star chickweed.
From every birdsong down the valley road
Your eager voice I’ll hear retelling
A story ever new to all who hear.
In every child whose wonder and delight
In Earth – the trees, the stars, the hills –
Recalls your love of scent and touch and hue,
Your spirit shines.
Your love gives blessings
Flung across these valleys and these hills
To greet another spring with hope renewed.
Doris Ferm, 1992
Gardener’s Plaintive Doggerel
What is so rare as a day in September?
Sweat on the brow makes one wish for November.
Sweat in the armpits is even less nice;
Let’s go in the house and resort to some ice.
One waters the garden; the rain doesn’t fall,
And meanwhile one bundles twigs, branches and all
that’s left from the ice storm, though winter’s long past.
The weed bushes wait, and keep growing so fast
I’ll never catch up! And euonymous! Woe!
Despair overtakes me, I’m going so slow!
I think what I need is a man who can dig,
Or possibly even a deep-rooting pig!
John spends his leisure with clippers and saw,
The motorized one, and the logs they do fall
From his cleverly homemade sawhorse support.
Lemonade’s needed; I think a full quart.
The years say I’m seventy, he’s sixty-nine,
And I guess you could say we’re doing just fine.
But we wonder sometimes, will the golden years come
When all of this yard work is finally done?
Doris Ferm, September 1994
Through all my living,
How the wilder lives of Earth
brought forth my joy,
and taught me how to be
And I, slow learner,
At last have opened up
to that within that teaches
how to love, to trust, to care
for all that breathing, growing, feeding, glowing, is.
And in the coming dark,
Across the western sky,
May homeward flights of birds
Now guide me toward the light.
Doris Ferm, 1993
If I should die, and cease to be
In this form you’re used to seeing, hearing,
Lacking arms to hug you then, or voice to sing;
Yet never doubt that I am with you still,
Loving you as I have always loved.
What joy that now there is the freedom
to be at once with each, with all of you
I love! To share you hopes more closely,
Spirit into spirit interweaving,
Growing on together.
How much you each have helped me grow
and open up to love more fully!
By the wonder of your love, Earth’s beauty,
And spirits of those who have gone before,
and live in me, I am enriched.
So grieve a little while and then go on,
Remembering that I live through you and
All that I have loved – trees, flowers,
waters, birds, and small soft creatures.
Everywhere you seek me I shall be.
Doris Ferm, May 1995
What is life?
That spark ignited in the warm, wet dark
that grows, throbs, moves, and comes at last into the light;
Struggles to stand, on spindly legs, to run; mews, seeks its
mother’s breast; squeals, peeps, fans gauzy wings,
Creeps about the forest floor.
Matures, ignites another spark perchance, or many;
Grows old, fades, dies and is no more, save in those it leaves behind.
What is life? I, who treasure mine,
Must grant to each its own,
It’s right to be, its place within the tapestry.
Must own the unity that underlies diversity
And see for each the fullness of its destiny.
So striving, I reap joy in wonder and delight,
In promise that my grandchild’s grandchild, too,
May know the beauty and the oneness found
In forest, field and mountain stream,
In lichened rocks and dewy webs at dawn.
What is life? It is the spirit gushing forth, unbounded,
Stretching tendrils upward, outward, touching,
Yearning for perfection of its promise;
Meeting eye to eye and heart to heart with
cat or dog, cow or deer, with crab and mantis, with child or crone,
Knitting each to each in that wondrous fabric of Earth’s time.
Doris Ferm, 1997
To My Son
The wild wet winds of autumn blow
Your spirit into mine.
I trace the gusts of birds across the sky
And farther south the boat upon the river
And the heron’s widespread wings.
Ash beneath the mirror water
Moves to roots and upward toward the sun.
It drifts upon the currents toward the sea,
Past all the well-loved spots you used to know.
I breathe your body into mine
To swell the tears that flow,
and touch your spirit in the wind.
I miss your hands, your face, your voice,
The man, the child I loved so long.
Doris Ferm, 1998
I go into the cold, dark room
to pull the drapes against the chill of night.
He used to lie there
on the sofabed, reading;
But no one puts the heat on now
and I don’t need the light.
The houseplants on the windowsill
stand dimly against the gathering dusk.
The room is filled with an absence
that permeates the house.
I return to the warm kitchen
where Jerem is sniffing the plastic bag
Into which I have put one of his neckties
to be given away.
We miss you, Johnny.
Doris Ferm, 2000
Oh, land of towering mountains, snow-crowned
against the brilliant sunlit sky;
land of tiny-flower-carpeted rolling tundra
where the sentinel firs
have staffed their struggling upward march
against the clean-cut, icy wind.
Land of white-spumed mountain torrents
dashing down the precipitous rock faces,
tumbling from the glacial lakes
to the green river that winds through
the softer hills of the intermountain valley;
land of those great, iron-pinioned, fierce soaring eagles,
kings of all the mountain air.
What would my soul give
to swing free as they
above the glacial tarns and valley meadows
where the elk herds graze?
What would I give,
my feet to wander once again,
along the needled forest slope,
and smell the odorless, clean air
off the distant peaks?
Doris Ferm, 2011