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“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.

THE SCIENCES SING A LULLABY

PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

Summer in Maine, and a bird poem

blue bird

blue fence flowers
We’re in the full flush of summer here, where Maine gets some Deep South-type heat and humidity and lots of folks complain about it. (Would they rather shovel snow?) Heavy rains and hot sunny days are making everything green grow and burst into bloom. Before first light, a cacophony of birds breaks out in the neighborhood. I keep refilling the bird feeder, and my bird bath often has a waiting line. This poem is by Maine’s redoubtable George Van Deventer. It’s dedicated to my sister Charlotte, who has toiled for many years (as a volunteer) for the Audobon Society where she lives in Washington state, not that far from the Other Portland.

When birds die

Imagine a day without bird song.
The ear would wither
like leaves in December.

Song fills all there is about us:
chickadee, raven, barnyard hen,
heron deep and raspy.

Finch in a cage.
Song of the eye in
a falcon’s whistle.

Pigeons coo
off the hand that feeds them.
Crows rattle the air

in an acclamation of company.

When the mine bird dies
we hear the silence
of its song.

GEORGE VAN DEVENTER, July 2014

Hope is the thing with feathers

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yellow bird on flowering branch

Spring has finally burst out in New England, weeks later than usual. The lilacs are blooming and their scent is everywhere. My white azalea is flowering and the peonies are budding. Here is a poem by Stephen Scaer that my mother sent me recently, a cleverly rhymed take on the “romance” of birdsong.

TO AN EARLY BIRD, MID-JUNE

To-we, To-woo, To-woe! Must you sing
so early, bird? Can these announcements wait
until a better time: say, half-past eight?
You don’t think this cacophony will bring
a friend who’ll share her nest so late in spring?
April’s the month to serenade a mate,
and at the latest, May. Accept your fate:
This summer you’re alone. And please don’t cling
to adolescent hopes these clamorous,
brooding lays could win a hen.
Sincerity won’t make her amorous
this close to fall. It’s hard to come to terms
with passing time. You might see spring again.
But let’s talk after breakfast. Go find worms.

copyright 2014 by Stephen Scaer – from The National Review