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Spring Sequence


i.

So far all the perennials seem to have survived the winter,
The bed of fennel retrenching itself in one showery stem.

A mild run of days and I'm out here pulling up stakes,
Hoeing weeds whose roots reach down into frozen ground.
 

ii.

March thaw—the vultures on the updrafts like flakes of ash,
The forsythia in their little haze of yellows by the road.

Daffodils and lilacs. And just this morning, along the creek,
I saw skunk cabbage, the dark mottled flames of their spathes.
 

iii.

Again this year, underneath the awnings and latticed roofs,
The seedlings are exhalations of the potting soil set out in flats

At Chapon's. Snow Crown, Jade Cross, Golden Summer
My cart fills up, at twilight, with the names of the earth.
 

iv.

As if the darkness spilled from crevices of sweet green light,
Two katydids, sheathed and translucent as leaves,

Trill from perches on my bedroom wall. I lie awake listening
To their bodies' crescendos. Tonight I don't have to sleep alone.
 

v.

Crossing the sets of train tracks back from beside the river,
I see how things go forward by twos: rails, ties, gravel beds,

The first of the ox-eyes now blooming along the roadsides,
The pincushion teasels within their collared whorl of spines.
 

vi.

Today I bedded the tomatoes in the shred excelsior of straw,
Spread side dressings of compost, pinched off any side-shoots.

The world one thing after another, soon it will be cucumbers.
"In the end," said Tu Fu, "I will carry a hoe."


Robert Gibb

AFTER
Marsh Hawk Press


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