April blossoms

Easter and Passover are late in April this year, which rather complicates the semester breaks of the university; the weather remains unsettled, and at present (6:30 pm, Eastern Time), I look out my north-facing window at bright evening light, lengthening shadows, and the narcissus and shadblow trees in bloom.

I have some visiting to do and may not be posting for a day or so–but will manage to do so if I can; and I will endeavor to at least compose one (I can at best promise one) poem per day even if I don’t get to this blog to post it.

[Note: This is more a reminder to myself than to my readers, who I’m sure have more  significant things to do than to keep track of whether I am holding to my discipline for National Poetry Month.]

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Aesthetic Potential

In her yard stood a large quince
which was her favorite flower, she said
though she admitted the bushes
ill-shaped and far too thorny,
the blossoms, though early, unscented
and often sparse or inward-facing,
simple in form, not good for cutting.
The fruits sour, useful only in jelly
which she never bothers putting up
anymore, the branches susceptible to rust.
It looks both forlorn and nasty all winter.
I like its tenacity, she told me, but also
its tenderness. For no other shrub
bears buds with such multi-colored
promise, that might open into anything—
sweet, complex, showy. Though it
doesn’t deliver, April’s bees indulge.

photo by Ann E. Michael

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Endemophilia

This poem is sort of my version of endemophilia, describing (as Albrecht defines it) “the particular love of the locally and regionally distinctive in the people of that place. It is similar to what Relph … called “existential insideness” or the deep, satisfying feeling of being truly at home with one’s place and culture.” You might want to check out Glenn Albrecht’s site for more detailed definitions and philosophical/psychological reasons for inventing names for such concepts.

My long-poem in Water-Rites, “The Valley, the Whitetail: A History,” probably fits the term endemophilia more closely than the poem I’ve posted below–which may one day appear in print if I can find a publisher for my next manuscript. But the long-poem is a little too long for a blog post.

[I have an idea: buy a copy of Water-Rites from Brick Road Poetry Press, and read it there!]

~

Suburban Georgic

A mild day in February. Good chance
there’ll be more snow or ice. Walk slowly,

note the footprint of a hosta, dormant, or
the arrow-shaped deer hoof in hardened soil.

Look more closely for the ravages and burrows
of rodentia—woodchucks, voles and mice.

You may discover where squirrels have
hidden seeds or laid waste to crocus corms—

try to restrain your wrath. Decide
how best to counter such yearly looting;

strategy keeps the mind sharp. Grubs,
for instance, in your lawn—a different tack,

and this year you may succeed, and keep
the skunks from rooting through the grass.

Weigh, in your mind and pocketbook,
the relative costs of pesticide and herbicide.

It might be the year to go organic,
though there’s even odds the dandelions will thrive.

Ease your troubled breast from lawn woes.
Raise your eyes to forsythia, to witch-hazel,

observe critically the shrubs’ bare bones,
decide what needs the kindest cut,

find your saw and pruners, time to oil
and sharpen—your fingers itch—

but it’s a little soon. To assuage your
yearning, cut back the redtwig osier

so its new growth will flush crimson.
Consider forcing blooms indoors—

aren’t there soft, small swellings on
the slim wands of pussywillow?

When the next storm hits, dream of columbine
and narcissus. Get out your Horace, and wait.

ann e michael

quince blossoms

~

© 2008 Ann E. Michael

~

Waiting, in the place I call home, for spring.

Early blooms

photo by Ann E. Michael

Quince blossoms.

The strangely warm weather around this equinox has sped spring along. Above, one of my favorite ornamental shrubs, a quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) in the named variety “Tokyo Nishiki.” I love its pale blossoms that lack the orange-y hue of the more common varieties of chaenomeles.

While it’s lovely to see the sun, blue skies, and so many flowers, it is worrisome because an open winter requires–in our temperate region–a rainy spring to make up for the lack of snow-melt. Instead, we are three inches below the average precipitation for March. It is unusual to have to water the spinach bed; usually, I am instead dealing with sprouts that pop up far from the intended rows because heavy rains have dislodged them.

Of course, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, as the old saying goes. I am just going to wait and see what happens. Will we get our blackberry frost? Will it be a hard frost that kills off the redbuds and damages the early blossoms? Will we get a freak April blizzard to bookend our freak October blizzard? Or will we have a dry, too-warm spring that means the daffodils wilt early, few blossoms in May, and a tough summer for food crops?

I have some thoughts about gardening in drought years, but I am crossing my fingers that maybe we will get spring rains after all.

Anyone know a rain dance, chant, or prayer?