23rd April 2017
St George’s Day
Three Views of Spring by Ann Preston
three lookout rooks
on three pointed pine trees
spiralling sprays of white camellia
crammed into my largest vase
a blackbird framed in the doorway
eyeballs me from the wall
16th April 2017
Four Ways to Look at Spring by Susan Jane Sims
Spring’s bloodied lambs
are licked clean
who will later cry
for their lost children.
in long Spring grass;
behind locked doors
blades are sharpened.
This Spring’s an interloper
coming much, much too soon.
Before my heart’s repaired.
builds twig by twig by twig.
11th April 2017
Thirteen Ways… from Lesley Saunders
The eyelets of spring are pinched
and metal-rimmed, letting barely anything
through; only this ribbon of spinning light.
A woman holds her hands a little way apart,
an unfinished space like the wait for the first words
of a new story, like the gap through which a grown man might slip.
Meanwhile the earth opens – grass
is not what it was, rising again
through the mist, shouldering stones aside
with its shining blades.
Left over from Christmas a gilt angel –
no bigger than the brazen wasp that butts
itself against a square of solid light – has slid
between the slats of the kitchen table;
glints in the angle of the sun.
(How could she not have noticed?)
Already, grubs of bread-and-milk to feed the gapes
of glistening newborns are squirming
in the hutch of spring – the hopeful word
for which is abdomen or womb.
And suddenly the air is full of fledgling names:
snowdrop, catkin, pussywillow, cowslip;
they are pale and precocious, their burred pollens
catch in her throat.
Even while they sleep
their pale foreheads nudge away the soil
and they come flailing out of her torn ground
like some wonder-tale, ashy-haired and ancient
as Egypt – these nurslings frail and dangerous as glass.
She gathers her blue folds round her.
People call it ultramarine because she came all this way
in a sail-less boat, bringing a dish of pomegranates
though what they notice is the wild inescapable light,
how momentarily it pools in the distance of her eyes,
trembling there like the frail ice they know themselves made of.
In the walled garden the stations of the spring:
lily-of-the-valley, rose of Sharon, star-of-Bethlehem,
A broken eggshell empty of everything but light
and birdsong floats away like a shred of sky,
a bright-eyed begging-bowl.
And now look how thickly the world closes over
the absences it has created, honeysuckle
poking its quicknesses into these roofless upstairs rooms,
and the carpentry of woodpeckers.
April moon – from Ama Bolton
8th April 2017
One Way of Looking At Spring
[inspired by Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens.]
It was afternoon well into the evening,
The sun’s warmth lingering
As though night would not fall.
A blackbird sang
When I looked up from the washing line.
6th April 2017
Early spring by Mark Haworth-Booth
I think of Blackthorn blossom as the chief player in the drama of early spring. Compared to Hawthorn, the blossoms are slightly off-white instead of brilliant white. On this bright, slightly chilly day (6 April), Blackthorn is still dominant in our North Devon hedgerows but the Hawthorns are beginning to come into flower. These are the other cast members, roughly in order of appearance: Primroses, Celandine, Stitchwort, Wild Daffodil, Red Campion, Wood Sorrell and Bluebell.
In addition to the flowering plants, the ferns make their entrance. A week or so I noticed how the bracken in our neighbours’ wood is simultaneously sending up new shoots, each with its crozier-shaped top unfurling, and letting the old leaves drop back onto the earth (and thence into it). Yesterday I photographed the same process in the Hart’s Tongue ferns on the banks of our lane: erect new bright-green shoots and prostrate darkening old ones. Dying off takes place as new life busts through.
On a day in late May a few years ago a hailstorm roughed us up in North Devon on its way east to blitz the Chelsea Flower Show. The next morning I walked down the lane to find that all the white Wild Garlic (Ramson) flowers had been torn off the plants and formed a bridal train. I wondered if the flowers were ready to leave the plants, with their work done, or whether the wrenching was premature. We know so much more now about the intelligence of plants, so it seemed possible that the flowers were ready to fall.
In a similar spirit, the beech trees, and beech bushes in hedges, will be shedding their old brown leaves as the new green ones emerge. In this way, the beech is a special shelter tree, keeping the curled brown leaves of autumn in place to mitigate the winter winds, and then the early spring ones, right up until the new leaf generation is ready to take over. As a parent, I’d like to emulate that – surviving long enough for my daughters to be ready for my departure.