broom: a flowering plant, the sole species in the genus Spartium, featuring rush-like stems and sprays of small yellow flowers. Varieties include Spanish, French, Scots, and weaver’s broom (often used to weave baskets).

The Cattail and the Broom

The ponds along the paths I trod
When youth and life did bloom
Were edged all spring and summer
With the cattail and the broom.

By bog and pond and marshland
They lined the watery ways
And thronged the crowded marges
I walked in younger days.

Water lily and the duck weed
Ruled the azure meres
And held the cat and broom at bay
In these, my greener years.

They raised their stalks and yellow sprays
Above the shoreline sedge
And seemed to know their narrow place
Along the water’s edge.

The common fate of all that live
Came with each autumn gloom
Wilting the flowers and greenery
Of the cattail and the broom.

They dropped their seeds and shriveled,
And then each brittle wand
Paid its winter debt to death
And slumped into the pond.

I took no lesson from this fate.
I saw none to assume,
A natural end but meaningless
To the cattail and the broom.

But oh, the spinner of the years
Is tireless at his loom,
And now I face my winter
Like the cattail and the broom.

But while I yet can tread these trails
I am amazed to see
How cat and broom have prospered
As the decades passed for me.

The duck weed and the pond itself
Have yielded up their room.
‘Tis crowded now from edge to edge
With cattail and with broom.

The slumping brittle stems, it seems,
Built up the weedy shore
In slow and incremental layers
And spread the marshy floor.

So with each generation
Upon the dying mould,
Bright new cat and broom
Have sprung, lively from the old.

And will they say the same of us?
Have we such clarity?
To lay our lives down with a will
For our posterity?

Oh, life is short and death is sure,
But need not trumpet doom
Could we embrace the simple wisdom
Of the cattail and the broom.