Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winter's Last Gasp (I Hope!)


"What the heck!" this cardinal seems to be saying, as he searches for seeds beneath the many inches of snow that fell last night.  More snow is predicted to fall throughout today, the last day of official Winter.  Ah well.  We've had worse snowstorms even later than this, so I keep thinking Spring, which arrives with the Vernal Equinox tomorrow.  Officially.  Right.

Here was a fine and most appropriate poem to ease my grumpiness this morning.  I heard it on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR.

Here in the Time Between


Here in the time between snow
and the bud of the rhododendron,
we watch the robins, look into

the gray, and narrow our view
to the patches of wild grasses
coming green. The pile of ashes

in the fireplace, haphazard sticks
on the paths and gardens, leaves
tangled in the ivy and periwinkle

lie in wait against our will. This
drawing near of renewal, of stems
and blossoms, the hesitant return

of the anarchy of mud and seed
says not yet to the blood's crawl.
When the deer along the stream

look back at us, we know again
we have left them. We pull
a blanket over us when we sleep.

As if living in a prayer, we say
amen to the late arrival of red,
the stun of green, the muted yellow

at the end of every twig. We will
lift up our eyes unto the trees hoping
to discover a gnarled nest within

the branches' negative space. And
we will watch for a fox sparrow
rustling in the dead leaves underneath.

"Here in the Time Between" by Jack Ridl, from Practicing to Walk Like a Heron. © Wayne State University Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

5 comments:

Jens Zorn said...

In reading the poem aloud, I find the breaks in my vocalization do not coincide with the stanzas but with the punctuation ...surely as the poet intended.
But in reading, more rapidly and without vocalization, the pattern of stanzas does have an effect, but I don't understand exactly what that effect is, nor exactly what the poet is trying to convey.
Is this obvious to everyone else?

Raining Iguanas said...

It is obvious, and it is wonderfully appropriate to the posted photograph. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it.

catharus said...

Great poem! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A wonderful poem and a good choice for the photos as well. Thanks. lgp

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, dear readers, for your comments regarding Mr. Ridl's wonderful poem. Your observation about the pattern of stanzas is fascinating, Jens. I often wonder, myself, about why a poet will end a line at a particular place that seems arbitrary to me. In the case of this poem, I was so taken by the imagery and the mood, I didn't ponder much about the structure.