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Spring Distractions

March 1999

A few lines in "To the Thawing Wind" by Robert Frost were the inspiration for this prompt.

I read "Give the buried flower a dream" and I thought of that line when I was outside in my February garden where the bulbs are already responding to another greenhouse-winter by breaking ground.

Spring is certainly not a new prompt for poets, but when I came to the lines "Scatter poems on the floor, / send the poet out the door" and I started thinking of Frost heading outside to clean that pasture spring and leaving the poems behind. As Frost suggests, "You go too."

What is it that you do when spring comes that will take you away from your poems and writing? Write about some sprintime distraction that takes you away from your writing - though, like Frost, it ultimately leads you back by its inspiration for this poem.
For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.

For Spring

My mother has paced impatiently
for the past bleak months
and I couldn't fathom why
but now that I see spring is here
I catch my breath and sit out
on the front steps
to watch the winter float by
I have always loved the cold and
the purity of snow
and she has always rushed to get
her hands in earth
and now, for spring, I understand
the need in the palm of her hands

Brandi Semler

Spring Shed

The ponies gambol down the hill,
And toss their shaggy manes until
The sun rakes through the melting snow,
To find the thick brown mud below.

Each pony rolls, luxuriates;
And I brush mud that mats and cakes,
‘Til each gleams smooth within the herd,
And long soft hair lines nests for birds

Mardi Jones

“a quarrel” -  The Random House Dictionary

In the dark soil
by the ditch bank
I planted a root
of rhubarb this spring.

     My small friend is dying.
     His skin is rich brown,
     so dark the doctors say
     radiation does not work well.

Before the first leaf, the rhubarb
pushes out a crimson nose, to test
the climate before the veined green unfolds.

     Below his neck’s brown skin
     hides the tumor's root and on the surface
     a pink growth shows,
     the color of the rhubarb nose.

Underground, I cannot see
the rhubarb root's invasion,
its strong sense of territory,
but the leaf on its single stalk
is the size of the palm of my hand.

     For his village, he, who
     is 4'10" and weighs 105,
     killed, with bronze age bow and arrow,
     an elephant for food.
     “It took a long time dying,” he said.
     “I followed it a week, then cut
     off what I could carry back.
     Told everyone where it died
     so they could get some, too.”

Our old rhubarb plant before summer's end
grows leaves the size of an elephant's
ears. They shade the ground so deeply
nothing grows below them.

     The rosy tumor's surface is the size
     of Goliath's thumb. I can see
     it invading the small neck.
     I wait but don't plan to see
     a broad green leaf spring
     forth; beneath the surface,
     below that pink nose, it grows.

The black green umbrella by my ditch
spreads each day. Gradual change is difficult
to see but I measure and compare.

     My friend's time was measured in years,
     then months, then days. One minute
     he will close his eyes in that dark shade
     where no grass grows.
     No more pain.

This rhubarb's tall, central stem shall never bloom.
Cut down and thrown aside,
it will shrivel, but
I will pull the crimson stalks,
use the leaves,
the size of elephant ears,
to cover the soil around the plant
and out of those bitter stalks
build a sweetened pie
that startles the tongue.

Mikal Lofgren


cold and damp i think of you
remembering our meadow days
underneath that cloudless sky
were the two of us would lay

still i see the fields of rye
were in my arms you used to hide
free of worry, free of care
free to conquer the hate out there

soon my love i'll be with you
deep within your stony tomb
free of worry, free of care
free to live the love we share

Matthew Brady


Bone weary, body aching
from the bend of the knee
the stretch of the back
the push of the spade
the pull of the slim green onion
        reluctant to cede
        its earthen bed

I can hear the robin trill
sense the sweet pea seed unfurl
find the furry anemone tendril
beneath my hand as
I clear away winter's leavings
        and imagine
        the perfect garden.

Joan Reilly DeRosa

Gardening With My Father

He would remove the crusty gloves from their spot
in the back of the garage, and gather the trowels
that had lain next to them during the long white winter.
We changed our clothes and slipped on old sneakers.
I raced against an invisible clock as he idly dressed,
eager to see my seventh glorious spring.

We knelt, bodies juxtaposed over the untouched soil,
and began to dig. His shovel turned over clods of fat earth,*
while mine barely dented the ground as we worked,
listening only to the scratching of metal on dirt.

I would try to pull up the weeds as my father did,
lifting them by their roots, but my small gloved hands
and skinny stick arms just weren't strong enough.
He would take my hand in his, gently and carefully
lifting those stubborn green stalks one at a time,
patiently uprooting them all until the ground was clear.

We would take the marigolds from their black plastic flats,
and allow their stifled roots to grow bigger and stronger,
extending deeper, grasping the loamy soil,
becoming anchors in the ground.

Years have passed since I last gardened with my father,
but we still share the spring.  We stand together again
on the dirt, but it is lighter, artificial--a baseball diamond.
This year, when I can again sense the change in seasons,
 I will hold aloft a small white sphere, like an unearthed weed.
"Daddy, look what I've got!"
 *From the 365 Tao.

Sarah Rothbard


It's a tulip-looking day
the smell of summer's promise
is on the young boy's shirt
and the baseball bat he swings
smacks a bouquet of daffodils and poems
your way.

Carole Reed