Three Poems On Appalachian Spring
By Kelly Morgan, Poetry Editor
Low Place By The River
This, I believe, is spring —
spring in the mountains, with silver bells and unfurled rhododendrons;
dog hobble on the ground, spilling over itself;
pine needles white under the sunlight;
big arching sycamores above.
All that I am grew first from here.
From the naked winter trees that soak up river water
and transmute it into dogwood blossoms.
Robert Frost said it first and best, that nature’s first green is gold,
but he did not wait for this: the feeling of moss under your toes,
the world opening itself into the space between the forest and the trees.
He did not tell how sunlight breaks through the trunks and falls into your open mouth.
This is the secret of deep spring, of submersion —
everything bending and stretching into color.
Vines covering the rocks on the bank; violets underneath the grass.
Young pine trees, no more than twice your height.
The ferns, clustered around the base of the poplar, reveal
spring, sunlight, the air that’s always moving
like the river sounds that permeate the ground.
There is no mud, only grass and last fall’s fallen leaves.
Though the new leaves are still waiting, the buds are there;
the goose eggs are laid, and the plant life
pushes up, undaunted, from the ground.
I think the poets must not know about moss in the mountains in April.
If they did, they would spend all year on the riverbank,
waiting for the sunlight to reach in.
(Like the color of Appalachia
after the sun but before night,
on a Sunday evening in early spring,
in February or the first week of March.
Only the yellow flowers out:
crocuses and daffodils
and the promise of forsythia
poking up through sticks and dry decay,
all vibrant against dead leaves.
Valleys cut in the road
by rivulets of stormwater;
smooth orange-beige rocks
where the land used to be river.
The barn, with paint like corroding iron:
lumber inside, machinery still out
one paulownia tree leaning near the door —
the big wide barn door with a white x
and mud caked in front.
with the sky’s blue
stolen for themselves.
The sky itself:
a thousand loose clouds,
the yellowy after-sunset.
In the field,
post-gold broom sedge
post-green pine branches
In a month, that green will have crept back in
and people will celebrate
after having waited through the interminable winter:
the curled rhododendron leaves,
The tractor will rev up,
the hay will be harvested,
the other, disused field will overgrow
with ragweed and daisies and poplar saplings.
The dogwood tree will blossom
and all the color will seep back in.
And in the evening,
before it dips below the mountains,
the sun — low in the sky — will linger)
Every Yellow Flower Is A Promise
Crocuses — that spring is returning,
That more is coming,
That life is unfurling under the frost.
Daffodils — that where you are,
People have been before.
Forsythia — that you can break and grow from it,
That beginnings and endings are woven together as one.
Dandelions — that change is a conduit for beauty,
That wishes appear in commons places,
That survival is a constant,
That you will hold on.
And lady slippers — that the rare and the wonderful
Are not synonymous with the impossible,
That such things will appear in the most unlikely of places,
Hidden miles and forests away from everything you know,