The first flakes of November snow
are singular: one––two … one––one.
They come gently down from clouds,
white clouds hurrying over to keep
an appointment with approaching winter.
Suddenly thickly they hit the ground
a cold body of weather fully formed.
For four minutes, five minutes, what
was flurry becomes a full-blown squall
drawing me out of protective quarters
to see if I’ve misunderstood what it portends.
Deer have nibbled bush and tree
have ended the blooming of phlox
before it began. What next?
Will they jump the fence
of the vegetable garden to join
the porcupine’s destructive way
in this year when he descended
the oaks for a taste of something
other than acorns? In one night
the green beans gone, broccoli
Swiss chard and kale ravished,
bolted lettuce left for us.
Is there time for a second planting?
The triple threat of goldenrod
aster and ripening elderberry
signals No! But why not gamble
on a late frost? Let’s put the seed
in the ground and mark it “hope.”
After all these years her reduction to ashes
sits unmolested on the fireplace mantle,
her mother afraid to let her go underground.
Her father had found her frozen in death
his and her mother’s love not enough
to save her from the cold and loneliness
of depression, that folded her in on herself.
If only she’d called, they’d have heard and come
running with hope for a new beginning.
The plywood hammered into place
over plate glass windows.
Survival kits of band-aids, flashlights
sandbags at the reaches of the tide.
It’s a monster, they say, the coming
hurricane, christened Florence––
a name for a friendly waitress,
a name that might tame some of its power.
At the hurricane center, who names
has power. (Remember Adam
walking in Eden, naming, naming …)
Forecasters hang their hats on
multiple fictions. Powerless before
Nature, what else can they do but hope?
Easter is three weeks old,
old enough to stand on its legs
and walk the landscape speaking life
into dead grasses, reluctant buds
icy hearts of men who have given up.
Easter is what it does:
renews to left, right, and center.
Its seamless garment passing over,
the grass goes green.
Off you go on your tractor to split the wood.
Seems I’m always hailing you from a distance,
you at your work, I at mine watching you,
recording your work on a day in spring
that is already looking through summer
to the cold trap of winter beyond, knowing
the flare of color in fall a brief fire
that will not last but will end as we will––
brown and sere––pushed off our branch
by the buds of another spring.
March snow inches in
from the edge of the field
to the warming center
where sun and sod converge
in a soggy melt
as our wooden fingers,
our wooden toes
are warmed from the center
when blood flows out to extremities
trembling, and awaiting relief.