It has been a year
and here I am,
sitting at my teacher’s desk,
tasting coffee, black and rich,
as morning mist dissipates
from the field where children play.
We will hire a sitter, my wife and I,
go out for a night,
eat food in a restaurant
(three quarter capacity)
where we will overcome nerves,
remember menus and tip well, and
we will give thanks to
fate, God, the nurse who
stabbed salvation to our veins…
we taste and smell and feel,
we see this spring,
and I will never understand
why we have lost so little.
When I lay on the mellow green
Of the earth
who fosters me like one of its
making me drunk on the honey comb
Filtered juice that warms my flesh
from a far away driven sight
and jewel me with its dirt
that smells as though
my entrails have been hidden within,
bewitching me to call it a home.
The autumn wavers its hello
in its brown and crusty foundation
but it feels as if
the spring has crawled on me
Lightly bruising my cuticle,
All naked and archaic
as though It has been waiting for me;
To be the fragrance of the woods
again to be someone
I have always meant to be.
“Some stories say that Hades kidnapped Persephone while she was picking flowers in a meadow during spring, married her, and tricked her into staying with him for six months by having her eat six pomegranate arils. Others say they fell in love with each other, were willingly married, and that she ate those six pomegranate arils because she couldn’t bear to stay away from him for a whole year. Isn’t that a more romantic side of the story than the original?” she remarks, splitting open a pomegranate and picking out its seeds.
“That’s just a silly notion. The gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks and Romans had nothing better to do with their time, so they created fake deities to occupy their time,” he replies, opening a bottle of honey wine and taking a sip. “Besides, if I was Hades and you were Persephone, I wouldn’t want to spend any second away from you even more than I have to.”
He leans over, buries his head into her shoulder and breathes in her scent. “What would you do if you were her?” he asks.
She smiles. “Pomegranates would be the only fruit I’d eat for the rest of my life.”
Spring around every corner
There once was a cat. He really liked to watch time go through the window. He watched as summer melted into fall, as fall turned into winter, as spring replaced winter, and as after spring came summer. He watched the seasons change a hundred times and suddenly he realized that he was old. Old as the world.
It was winter's end when he realized this. He also didn't want to celebrate spring like all the other years. He went looking for the spring. The cat reached the city and wondered in every street, looking around every corner looking for spring. But no matter how hard he looked he couldn't find it. There wasn't a soul in the city also who knew where the spring was. The cat was devastated.
Until he found a very old dog. This dog was living in the city's most desolate street. When he first saw the cat, he already knew who he was and what he was looking for. He told the cat how to find spring. And he also told the cat that the cat was young in his heart but old in his appearance. "Lovely old fella" the dog silently laughed. The dog knew that the cat was just a kitten in his heart. As the cat walked away he jumped in a puddle, caught a dead leaf and hummed a little song.
Days passed and the cat did nothing. He waited for spring to come himself. One morning the spring finally came. It was beautiful with blossoms and little rain. The snow slowly melted away. And so did the cat's mind, heart, tail and also his life. Right then, when the cat had seen spring's beginning for one-hundredth time his life melted away fully.
Birds fly overhead,
Flowers wave and moonlight dances on silver blades of grass,
The river flows once more,
Free from its icy prison,
The fishys prance with nervousness,
At the thought of fishing poles and cannonballers,
Mothers sing as they plant their gardens,
And grandmothers get feisty with spring cleaning,
Cuts and bruises,
Blood and scabs,
Maybe that will teach them not to jump head first into a pricker bush hiding bunnies.
Spring is different here in Indiana. It took forever. There was still snow on the ground every time I looked. Finally it’s all gone. I didn’t even see it melt.
Even the people are different. They talk different. They say their A's weird. It has a twang when they do it. They don't say "glasses." They say, "glayisses." The first day it snowed, the LuAnne lady across the street came over. She knocked on the door. Bonnie and Curt were gone. Dad was gone. Mom was upstairs. I got the door. She had a weird look on her face.
She said, Look!
It was snowing. First time I ever saw it. She wanted to be first. First one to tell me, because she found out I was from California.
If it sticks, you and your brother can make a snow mayin.
I didn’t know what kind of face to give her. My friend Steve said she was mean. So I just stood there. She just kept looking goofy at me. Till finally I closed the door. That’s when I was excited. Then it was okay to show my being happy, because the LuAnne lady wasn’t watching me for my face now.
Then later when I went door to door, trying to sell raffle tickets for Pleasant Lake school where I started, I knocked on some old people’s house. It was two doors up and across the street from Aunt Bonnie's. The man answered the door and ge was really, super old. He invited me in before I could think of something. I didn’t wanna be mean. There was a woman there now. They moved like air was fighting against them. They wouldn’t let me go. They said for me to sit in a chair. They kept asking me questions I couldn't understand. They were sitting in the opposite chairs. It was in their living room. Every time I said something back, they said, What? Then they wanted to know what I was doing by pointing at me, not by talking now. They kind of just made sounds after that. I tried to tell them a different way. Then they said, What? Till I made something up why I had to go. I got out of there FAST. I quit trying to sell them that day. Who cares about raffle tickets?Aunt Bonnie said those were the Strocks. They were here since some early number year. Nobody warned me.
The bugs are different here, too, but in a good way. Everything is different. Even the weeds are different. There’s big, tall milkweeds in Bonnie’s backyard that I only read about in books before. I remember because monarch butterflies eat those. Then I found some. Monarch caterpillars. Right on there. Just like the book said. There’s none of that in California. And giant orb weaver spiders, big and black and gold all over, bigger than I thought those would be, and their webs are perfect in design, way more perfect than California spiders. The house behind Bonnie and Curt’s has a long, long backyard. It’s the size of a football field. The backyards don’t have fences. You can just go in people’s backyards, nobody even cares. Unless you leave footprints if it's snowing. Once it was spring finally, I found these bugs on these gold-colored flowers. They’re called goldenrod flowers. I looked them up in Dad’s encyclopedias. The bugs on them are called ambush bugs. They’re like tiny praying mantises in the front, but their thorax and their abdomen is shaped like a tiny tank. I spent so much time watching them. The ambush bugs capture their prey like praying mantises, with their arms. But instead of chewing the other bug up, they poke it with their stinger on their mouth. It’s called a proboscis.
The bugs are neat, but the people are weird here.
But most especially, the worms here are incredible. They don’t have worms like this in California. These are called nightcrawlers. They crawl around at night, too. After it rains. They’re EVERYWHERE, and bigger and fatter than any California worms. But the biggest, most surprising thing is, they’re also smart. They can hear you coming. When you’re trying to catch them, they duck back in the ground, right before get there. We go out at night, me and Jorge, after it’s done raining. With Uncle Curt’s flashlight and Dad's flashlight and some buckets with some dirt in it. They’re every, every, everywhere. But you gotta be quick, and you gotta be sneaky. If they hear you, they’ll take off back in their hole. And then, even if you grab it, it’ll just break in half, unless you give up doing tug of war with it. They have tiny bristles that let them grip their holes so you can't pull them out. It’s why we walk on tiptoes. Then we can grab them before they go back in their hole.
Dad and Curt are taking us fishing. Indiana has LOTS of lakes. We can't wait for tomorrow. We always catch stuff. All the fish look different here.
Friday night is for catching our worms, then tomorrow we go. The fish LOVE these. First we start in Bonnie’s backyard, then we go all around. First at the house behind us, then over at Steve Wahl’s. He’s my friend nextdoor. He goes with us sometimes. But he can’t go tomorrow.
I go wherever I see worms, shining around my flashlight on the wet ground in the dark. My bucket makes a tubby sound, back and forth. I hear Jorge. His bucket also sounds tubby. These buckets have metal handles when you walk.
I see Jorge’s flashlight now. He went that way. I am getting worm after worm over here. Here's a GREAT spot. It's a TON of them!
There's a noise and I look up. I’m at that one lady’s house, the one nextdoor to Steve’s. Steve said, Never go there. She's mean. I lost track of where I was.
She is sticking her head out. She has brown hair that’s in curlers. She is in a white night dress. She wants to know. What am I doing. It’s in the dark, I should run.
She said, What’re you doing?!
Sounded like a witch said it.
I don’t know what to say. My brain won’t tell my legs to go. These’re for tomorrow, I don’t wanna drop my nightcrawlers.
My unshaky voice left me. All I have is my shaky voice. She is gonna kill me, but I tell her I’m looking for worms. We are going fishing tomorrow.
Oh, okay, she just said. And then that was it. She just closes her window.
Just like that.
That’s when it hit me. It’s like magic. The people here. You can get out of any kind of trouble, just tell them you’re going fishing if it's spring, or if it's winter, tell them it’s your first time you ever saw snow.
Spring’s many Faces
Use spring in as many ways as possible in a coherent paragraph. 100 words or less.
What was the teacher thinking? Spring verb, adjective, noun. And with a dozen different meanings. I sat back in my chair, looking around at the backs of the other students sitting at the test kiosks. Did they have the same question or had the creative writing exam been customized for each of us? Probably. It wasn’t hard to see what was up on the monitors. Cheating wouldn’t be possible. Georgie had a prompt to do with the color blue. Alex’s was something about flight.
I saw them shaking their heads and sitting deep in thought as well.
The clock was ticking. I guess I have to type something, but what?
Slowly I placed my fingers on the keyboard.
Spring green, springboard, spring into action. The spring compressed storing energy. Hmmm…. Could I put that all together into a couple of succinct sentences?
Spring compressed warmth
Pushing her tendrils into the earth
Water dripping from icicles
Hanging over a sweet water spring
Pale olive buds burst, spring free
And the fawn springs from his mother
Free at his birth.
Spring green grass nurtures her work
And renewal, a spring, coiled in winter’s sleep
Retreats once more, his claws now sheathed
A springboard of energy now released
Well, now, that might work. The assignment, for this test was to use spring in as many ways as you could. Sure, she said paragraph, but a poem was what came out. I counted the words. Hmmm, just fifty six.
I looked up at the clock, it hadn’t moved, seems time had slowed down, giving me a gift.
I looked my poem over, was there anything I wanted to change? Not really. My hope is the teacher, knowing the pressure, wouldn’t tear it apart as was her nature.
I scrolled down to the bottom of the answer box and hit finished. Now I was going to spring for a peppermint chai tea. I was free for three days, Monday is a holiday.