Posted by: ktzefr | April 20, 2015

The Poetry of Spring…

snowballAt first I disregarded the email saying thunderstorms were on the way.  Instead, I set up my outside office — laptop, chair cushions, umbrella, a pot of tea.  A stack of books.  Poetry.  By the time I finished drinking a cup of tea a cloud had darkened the sun and it had started to rain.  I quickly packed up everything and went back inside.  Then, sunshine again.  Birds singing.  Squirrels leaping across the tree “highway” that is my back yard.  From my open window I can feel the breeze, listen to the birds, and look out onto the green beginnings of a zillion snowball blossoms-to-be.  And read poetry…

I’m reminded of all the wild things growing in the Kentucky hills when I read Southern poets.  These lines are from Connie Jordan Green’s “Of the Wild” ~

“On the hillside beneath the power lines,

honeysuckle, blackberry, locust seedlings

have entered the third day.  Not all the mowers

in God’s kingdom nor all the spray in the devil’s

workshop will convince them life is futile.”

Last week we were sitting on the back deck and heard our first frog of the season.  Today, there was a frog chorus just before the rain started.  Mary Oliver’s kinship with the natural world is something I both admire and understand.  I sometimes talk to the critters, too, as she does in “Toad” ~

“I was walking by.  He was sitting there.

It was full morning, so the heat was heavy on his sand-colored

head and his webbed feet. I squatted beside him, at the edge

of the path.  He didn’t move.

I began to talk.  I talked about summer, and about time.  The

pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night.  About this cup

we call a life.  About happiness.  And how good it feels, the

heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.”

I’ve seen a number of new birds at my feeders the last couple of weeks.  A bunch of grackles migrating north.  A red-winged blackbird.  Chickadees.  I looked out a bathroom window a couple of days ago and spotted a new nest in a place that is not visible from other windows or doors.  The industrious robin couple was at work again early this morning forming the sticks and straw and strings into a proper design.  I noticed a few loose ends — a wide blue ribbon or plastic dangling from the nest.   Though spring is a busy time, it’s also a perfect time to slow down and take stock of what’s going on around you…as Billy Collins does in “A Question About Birds” ~

“I am going to sit on a rock near some water

or on a slope of grass

under a high ceiling of white clouds,

and I am going to stop talking

so I can wander around in that spot

the way John Audubon might have wandered

through a forest of speckled sunlight,

stopping now and then to lean

against an elm, mop his brow,

and listen to the songs of birds.”

Frogs, birds, wild things, flowers…all signs of spring.  I love the images in Muso Soseki’s “House of Spring” ~

“Hundreds of open flowers

all come from

the one branch

Look

all their colors

appear in my garden

I open the clattering gate

and in the wind

I see

the spring sunlight

already it has reached

worlds without number”

Sometimes I go in search of a poem that will give me something to think about while I’m doing things that require no thinking.  I rarely have to look any further than Rumi.  These lines from “The Music We Are” will work for now ~

Did you hear that winter’s over?  The basil

and the carnations cannot control their

laughter.  The nightingale, back from his

wandering, has been made singing master

over the birds.  The trees reach out their

congratulations.  The soul goes dancing

through the king’s doorway…

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the

courtroom, and several December thieves steal

away.  Last year’s miracles will soon be

forgotten…

Poems are rough notations for the music we are.”

Back to Appalachia and to childhood.  Spring in Kentucky was all about the blooming redbuds and dogwoods, the snowball bush and lilac, bike rides and mud puddles, games at recess in the school yard.  Some days the most difficult decision to make was guessing the weakest link in the Red Rover chain and aiming for it with all the power one could muster.  We always chanted “we DARE (fill-in-the-name) over” — a bit stronger than this one from Charles Wright’s “Early Saturday Afternoon, Early Evening” ~

“Saturday.  Early afternoon.  High

Spring light through new green,

a language, it seems, I have forgotten…

Afternoon undervoices starting to gather and lift off

In the dusk,

Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy come over,

Laughter and little squeals, a quick cry.”

**********

How are you celebrating National Poetry Month?  Do you have any favorites for spring?

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