Tag Archives: spring

Six late winter mornings

Six late winter mornings

It’s the underlined day
On the calendar of forgiveness.
But I cannot make the call.

I get up early
To let the dogs out but

It’s too cold–they stay on the porch
As if waiting for a ride to pull up

Or a drink. I walk to the back yard
And relieve myself

Against the frosted grass.

The black rabbit
Lounges in his hut

By the family vegetable garden.
He often rode on the back of our dog.

One day he lay on his side,
Not waiting for the morning

Or for us to find him.
He was finished and he went.

Leaving only a stiff black shroud
And the sound of birds.

Winter leaves like that.

In our blizzard-crafted snow cave
We almost died

But the snow plow missed us as we hid.
Years later, my childhood friend Marty

in his capacity as a civil servant
of the public works

Tore up a curb with his plow right
Across the street from

Where we’d once schemed
How to pay for the garage window

We broke with a barrage of snowballs.

After an early March storm
I snuck out before my son woke

To make lumps in the snow
Like snake coils surfacing.

Over breakfast I swore
I saw the Loch Ness Snow Monster

Out the bay window in the plow drift:
When we went to investigate

He discovered a large egg
Of ice, snow, and dirt

By the edge of the plowed pile.
He demanded we take it inside.

We put it in the freezer
To see what would hatch.

Spring grows over the winter
Like a scar

The hurt season’s swelling

We almost over-reach for it
As if we prefer being sore

Over forgetting, a cloud
Ceiling over empty blue sky.

March 4th


March 4th

Suddenly it’s spring. The trees say so.
They don’t confer with the cold

Morning or mountain gusts. They don’t
Ask if we’re ready. The maple says, mind this–

And flecks with red punctuations like starting
A sentence backward, all the year’s statements

With their periods, leaving language to unfurl at its
Own, slower, pace. The trunk’s shadow runs down the slope

Like a creek then rivulets of branches reach across
The road towards your porch like it has

Something to tell you, only you. But come closer:
You must get up and step into the road

To see what it means, trickling black
At your feet. And definition depends

On surfaces for the depths to survive:
Too late you see how at its outermost edge

the message in twig shapes
Crumbles across the texture of street

Pebbles, first like a word breaking into syllables,
Then slight sounds of insistence or regret,

Then a breath then the thought somebody
Was about to speak but you turned to see no one,

Then your own breath, held, while you are
Listening for its shadow

Poem to be read in the middle of the night (i)

Poem to be read in the middle of the night

In the daylight the wind in high branches
can at least be seen if not heard

In the spring it will regain its voice
the trees will put on their hands and applaud

Their applause is what we hear
The performance itself slips through ungrasped



Summer. The wren in the young willow
Swivels with the speed of a missed tag

In a back yard game of chase. What I am
Chasing I’m glad to miss. What I hold

On to is the untouchable joy of losing
A race to my daughter. The air after

Rain. It’s late spring, early June, and
You cannot convince children

out of school that it’s not summer.

To a Japanese maple in mid-April


To a Japanese maple in mid-April

The heavy spring rain pulled the night
All the way to the ground. Like shattered glass

It lay through dawn in the hollow. When I rose
The sky was the blue of starting over

But not forgetting. The stars had crawled
Up your trunk and were asleep in their green study.

The broken darkness, unsteady in daylight, lurched
Gracefully, two black swallowtails

Like dizzy memories of other nights that fell
To earth and survived the day.



Author’s note: This Japanese maple, located in Afton, Virginia, provided the leaves for the leaf-print illustrations in my new book Wind Intervals.

Spring morning in a small city


Spring morning in a small city

The day is squeezed through the city’s buildings
Like water through a whale’s baleen

Leaving people harmlessly stuck to offices and stairways
Pressed against a wall in a hallway or sitting at a cafe

Table on the sidewalk. I, too small to be a meal for time
and commerce, slip through, discarded, on the quiet street

With my coffee. The sky is the blue of a baby’s iris.
A baby as big as a galaxy who is far from forming

Thoughts cohesive enough to create a world.
The only clouds in the sky slip together

Over the street into a momentary shape, a character
in a language not native to me but familiar.

I watch it pull itself apart. The city places orange cones
Around me to protect me while I stare and take a picture.

When I get home I discover it is the Chinese character
For “write.” I sit down with some paper and a blue pen

But every word drifts in a different direction as soon
As I write it and the page is as firm and white

As the sclera of a baby’s eye, of a galaxy whose
Unformed thoughts are rolling inward. The city blinks and

Before anyone can take a picture the day smashes its tail
on the surface of afternoon and is gone into the depths.

April Evening

April Evening

In the sweet air we want to take off our socks
And the song of the grass is softening

In the dark something moves slowly across space
Even the wind is taking its time

The silver maple’s a month early getting leaves
I feel that way too — for each heartbeat that flies from me

Tonight there’s a silent starling waiting in the walnut grove