Two days ago I took myself to a garden center as a defiant acknowledgement that Spring is coming. And today I'm releasing the first poem I have written since my, shall we say, "challenging" poetry manuscript conference a month ago. The poem was inspired by several of the naturalist poets at the conference and by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. I love anything outdoors--birds, walks, trees, lakes, mountains, oceans, storm clouds, gardens, even plain old dirt--but I can't seem to jumpstart myself into happy appreciation the way so many other people say they can. So this poem is about that.
These buds need light now,
They’ve been bullied by a merciless snow
That stormed in last November
And white washed everything in sight.
The ground is weary,
Battling for sun,
By a white depressing permanence.
I could walk along the curved path
And seek out the red berries
As a sign of vibrance
But today I hobble instead of sprint
And that is no way to take this walk.
It’s harder still to reconcile the hundred foot pine in front of me--
Stripped by some disease my neighbor did not treat--
Framing the landscape of a slumbering sky,
Jolted by the flapping wingspan of a passer-by hawk,
Carrying a stunned squirming chipmunk in its mouth--
That chipmunk in a fight I’m sure,
It had no chance to win: no chance at all.
And me? Must I fight too?
Memory wrestles me down.
A white despondency covers even me.
Sometimes instead of chimes and dances
I hear only ice howls and hollow echoes before they hit the ground.
Those poets who find meaning
In observing the natural life:
That is not me. My comfort comes from underground
where roots are the flowers of the otherworld.