JANUARY

PAPERWHITES

The winter light
bisects bottles
pried from mud.

Innards crusted
lips chipped
bright as sapphire.

It picks up the nicks
in paint
the tacky sheen
of cooking grease
the glory dust
of memory.

Until it
stumbles
on the paperwhites.

Vainglorious and pained
they stand
slouched
against the wall.

Time is so dull.

They think of nothing
but themselves
dream of nothing
but the spring.

 

FEBRUARY

RESERVOIR

Frozen dog shit
grubby snow
and rattling ashes.

In a granite quarry
ice lumped in tiles
square and slate and chunked.

A place where
oak leaves have splintered
in the cold
and beaver dams are numbed
in their rot.

Things never change.

Until
inevitably
they do.

A bond snaps
a rock drips
fresh water rises
and the earth lets it slide.

 

MARCH

DRYER

March.
The word itself
contains the pith.

It speaks of irons, heat,
and bleach,
chemical and comforting.

Worries exfoliated,
and excoriated,
and expunged.

Annoyances scrubbed clean.

You can smell it
in the wind.

Dryers venting squabbles
and artificial scents.

 

A CARDINAL TOLD ME SO

Spring came in at my window today
and bid me walk a while
in prayer.

I had thought March would not spare
us the relentless snow
that marked the lengthening light.
Her cruelness had already enticed
men south to white sand beaches
with record books lying in wait.
The plows were swimming in greenbacks
the shovel was standing sentinel
and the ice was slick beneath.

But when I looked out my window
on a day that was nearing Easter
I felt the warmth through the glass.
And you could scent the season in the soil,
the water melting in chocolate,
while the wind was nearly still.

On a telephone wire I heard the call
of a high-pitched bird
like a natural siren wail.
It had silhouetted itself against
a blue of untainted innocence
to show off a bright blood orange hue.
A lick of flame at the edge of a fire
this signal of the passion
of the birth beneath the snow.

I am not called a Christian
but I understand the sentiment
and the myth for northern springs.
Nature’s mending suspicions
so we forgive the trespasses.
A cardinal told me so.

 

APRIL

THE CRUELEST MONTH

Spring is bursting at the seams
pollen suffocating the streams
shoots ascending overnight.

There are sparrows at the shutters
and seed pods in the gutters
grief is bleaching in the light.

 

MAY

THE FIRST CUT

The first cut is a meditation
on futility.
Like the pilgrim in the labyrinth
approaching God
and going round in circles.
Each step through the lush green
brings the whiff of gasoline
decapitated violets
and lines of dead hopes that remain
after the fact.

 

JULY

PORCH LIGHT

When I see
the fragile wing of a moth
fluttering,
even
beating at the bulb,
it reminds me
of a blue vein
and the needle
and the need.
Creatures free to fly
spare as air
trapped by a filament
of light.