new from Fernwood Press
One of the beauties of native trees, flowers, and grasses is that they need little maintenance and are adapted to a region’s precipitation patterns. But once in a while, a drought stresses the trees and flowers. That’s what happened some years back when our dogwood was about five years old. A drought hit while we were on vacation for several weeks, and there was no one to water the dogwood. It suffered, and some limbs died. I thought we were going to lose the entire tree, but the next spring, much of it had revived. Still, I ended up amputating the dead limbs. The tree no longer has the beautiful symmetry of its youth. Nevertheless, when it blossoms in the spring and leafs out in the summer, it is still quite lovely.
The poet Wallace Stevens said, “We live in the description of a place and not in the place itself.” I want my experience of the Ohio River Valley to be more than what I have read and been told. I want to live aware in this place. I want to see and smell spicebush. I want the pleasure of discovering in yet another spring Jack in his pulpit in the shadows of our yard. I want to see the profusion of spring white and the brilliance of autumn leaves on our dogwood. All of this roots me in place. It anchors me to Here and, therefore, also to Now.
“Geography,” Jon Levenson wrote, “is simply a visible form of theology.” I suppose a tree can be theology also, but my dogwood is more than theology. It is a visible form of belief.
—Franchot Ballinger (December 25, 1939 – August 24, 2021)
Franchot very much wanted to see this book in print.
Unfortunately, he passed away before his dream was realized.
We have been honored to help shepherd
this book through the final stages before publication.
We so wish he could have seen this project to completion.
Franchot L. Ballinger
Henrietta, Robert, Julie, and Elise Ballinger
Franchot Ballinger (December 25, 1939 – August 24, 2021) taught English Literature at University College of the University of Cincinnati for nearly forty years. He volunteered at the Cincinnati Nature Center and as a spiritual care volunteer at Hospice of Cincinnati. Franchot is survived by his wife, Henrietta, four children, six grandchildren, and his sister. Franchot’s final resting place is in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio, and also in the hearts of those that loved and respected him.
I watch the sky, that metaphor:
soon dark will crest and break across my yard as dawn,
the first of the day’s crossings I will see,
the first change borne.
It’s metaphor that makes the world—
Milhaud’s saxes angling blues and cakewalking trumpets,
Emily with a bee and a clover and a reverie,
Yahweh with starlight and breath.
From here to there or there,
over each horizon a line is traversed in some way,
and in the crossing, something is born anew,
each a poem.
In noon’s heat,
I’ve watched the harbor wind spill
in wave and rise again as bell toll,
spill and rise as toll.
A pasture fence is true
until wind opens geometry, and the sheep amble
over, transubstantiated, eccentric snowflakes
nuzzling deep clover.
Crossings is available now for presale from Fernwood Press and will ship by Monday, October 24. Click here to order your early copy.