THE DEATH OF WINTER
Sounds like a headline from those old tabloids—
Elvis sighted on Mars, Man’s Head Explodes
in Barber’s Chair, Winter Is Dead.
By calendar, maybe. But here,
new Spring grass was greening hills and swale
already in December; by mid-March, out-of-
Almost anything’s a tabloid
headline now: Bark Beetles Are Replacing
the Bees. Outlandish?
I’ve seen the beekeeper’s empty boxes;
the bear who used to raid his hives, disappeared
like endangered species. Hillsides of amber
pines, dead of drought and beetles.
Climate Change is creepy as heads exploding.
In these modern days of apocalyptic
science, maybe the old tabloids are extinct.
What’s real? Ask song-birds headed farther
north each year, a polar bear searching for ice.
SYMBOL AND SUBSTANCE
Incessant fall of midnight rain down windows—
you waited for the death of winter;
tried to exorcize with smudge of sage;
brushed to static the cabin-fever air. Gray inside
Out of town, looking for—what? not
purple sagebrush but thrill of skin to ultraviolet,
thin sky. A distinctive yet still distant
peak. Summit becomes symbol.
But something stopped you short. Turnout
with no sign promising waterfall or panoramic
view. You got out and started walking.
Rocks to wrench the joints, and wind purging
brain and lungs. Water cold as snowmelt,
it lives so close to winter. You drove home
empty, full of a secret you couldn’t say.
Familiar of our hill in every season,
the ghost pine haunts another spring. It’s March,
all that’s left of winter is the gray—ghost-
pine gray. Deciduous oaks are leafing
out to match wild grasses rushing the pasture.
Buckeye’s gaudy with green. The ghost
pine stands gaunt, disheveled, drab; needle-
fingers fumbling a breeze. Its trunk so
many-forked, you’d think it couldn’t decide
which way to point the sky.
Still standing for another spring, ever-
green in gray-tone, a survivor.
You said Winter was dead. We’re past
the equinox, it’s Spring; when the Sap Moon
turns full, the calendar flips a page:
April, Sunday, it’s Easter. Life rises again
as our creek has risen just since last
night, right over the road. A bit too soon
we spoke of Spring. Waters rage.
We’re stuck, going nowhere till—when?
A break between storms. We unpeeled quantities of wet dead leaves twigs logs grasses plastered to stockwire fence laid flat by dry-creek running full-tilt flood-stage across our drive; pulled more quantities of the same plus one small boulder to unclog a culvert. Who needs a lake across one’s entrance-exit? Then I boxed up 108 Years of National Geographic CD-Roms along with 25 pounds of paper issues; my mother’s treasured Larousse Gastronomique; The Limerick; and Norton’s English Literature Early 17th Century inherited from a poet-friend. To test our connection to an outside world, we drove to the Library, delivered our book donation, drove back home. It was a beautiful early spring afternoon. More rain due tonight.
in the creek’s water-
color puzzle, scourings of
earth, stone, grass, and sky
SPRINGING OUT OF WINTER
Over eons our red-brown rocks have heaped/
heaved themselves into a blocky maze
behind the house, an ankle-breaker hilltop.
Three years ago, I watched our tiny pup,
Wander, sitting, watching TV; science program
in terms of pi, not puppies. But Wander
would go pied-pipering her littermates over
the rocks, too young to anchor their shadows.
Years before that, we had a dog named Pi,
her feats circumscribed by nothing, not even
the constant π. Puppy Wander was ready
to go, and the other pups to follow—tiny ships
on a geologic ocean tiding slower than the mind
of man or dog. Crux of our fractured world,
Can’t as opposed to Of course I can. Our pups
were safe as any babe on this side of an abyss.
Brave hearts adventuring the universe.
Balancing on boulders, waggling ears to tail,
sailing arcs over rock-heaps in new spring
light and dark of oak-shade, laughing
with every puppy-tooth. A lie? their pi of truth.
A sea of muddy water tides over the bottom
of our driveway and the dirt road rutting
away to paved two-lane connecting
us to the outside world. We’re an island
here. Spring grows vivid green
with rain. Clumps of grass—loosened
along the shore, roots still clutching earth—
gather at the culvert with twigs,
branches, and logs broken free in storm.
It swirls a foamy whirlpool
above the culvert. Everything washes
down-creek that’s dry all summer,
resurrected now in rain. This
is how our world remakes itself.
Bless the rain.
Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her musings about winter and—perhaps—our premature reports of its death. As for the poem on global warming—ouch!
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