This isn’t a new poem – in fact, it begins my first book, Here Along Cazenovia Creek, praise poems to the changing seasons in the beautiful hill country of western New York. There is no spring like that after a long winter. Here in Hilo, we have had the longest, coldest, rainiest winter in history, and although bulbs are not breaking through icy ground, the first day of sunshine brought the same expansiveness and joy. Then, high on Mauna Kea, this wild plum tree was blossoming. So here, in gratitude for spring wherever and however it comes, is “Spring Along Cazenovia Creek.”
The roses have come through
though some are dead to the ankles.
Now, in this cheerful air
they must be feeling pain
where the dead places are stretched
by little flames of juice—
when it catches they burn
burgundy and green and green.
in her dry meadows
could linger, could fritter
picking orchids and anemones
earth turns faster
we are all in a hurry—
the hooves, the wheels
are upon you—
before the dark.
One morning the sky is full of noise
and here they come, yonking
along the creek, circling down, skidding
in the icy sedge, checking it out,
A few stragglers—
Hey, you got any room down there?
No! Get lost!—
it’s a neighborhood.
Everywhere up and down the road—
yelling their wares beside mailboxes, along driveways and porches—
forsythia and Schiaparelli-colored quinces—
and tulips and daffodils, yellow and orange and purple
and scarlet poppies the size of sunflowers
their ripe black hearts already spilling seed
and chartreuse maple leaves untwirling
over the dark mud and slick gray sheen of ice.
The whole world is trumpets bellowing
as loudly as they can—
and not in any tune but their own
none of it composed or assonant or orchestrated or seemly—
everything just roostering out
because they cannot wait!
they have to ring the bells and shout
The green dog runs beside me
following his pleasure,
circling back from time to time
from rocky places or it may be
and he is green because
new grass is springing, fine and thick
through the old guard hairs
on his back, which is redolent
of sun and dust and bitter herbs
and he says
Smell Here Now.
It’s like you turn your head for a moment or close
your eyes for a moment, like the pig-iron-colored
frost still has it all locked
for a moment longer and then
faster than you can catch in your wide
palms, in your wide eyes—
saffron-veined crocuses pushing through the ice,
then clouds of crabapples and willows and mauve rhododendrons
and the cherry tree pouring down snow
into pools of grape hyacinths and forget-me-nots
and lilies of the valley, smelling
like that dream you had about the angel,
and purple irises and lilacs in clusters
of scented grapes, and wisteria—
and suddenly every roadside white and purple
with daisies and wild phlox
and then all along the fence,
fat mops of peonies as big as your head
and Renoir-fleshed roses, all pink shoulders and gold
ribbons,and the lilies already two feet high—
and you are spinning around
to catch it inside your eyes before…
but it won’t stop,
it’s galloping downhill, days like catherine wheels—
everything roistering, everything busy
being what it exactly
is, just as fatly and deliciously as possible—
like little pigs grunting and sucking it up
through their feet, mouths open to the rain, to the held hose
and you would cry Wait!
but you’re already twelve miles down the road
and suddenly it’s
Fig-ripe, falling open,
Melon sky, lightning-split
spitting seeds of thunder.
Caught in the grasses,
light, light, light!
Sugar shimmering in the veins.
On the skin, a slick of sweet.