Saturday, March 1, 2014

Unexpected Harbinger of Spring—A Poem

As many have noted, it has been a long, brutal winter across most of the eastern half of the United States.  At this point most of us are desperate for any sign of Spring.  Most years I would be scouting for the pioneer snow lilies and crocus and quite often not be disappointed.   This year they still lay dormant in the frozen ground under layers of snow and ice.
We have had a respite from snow for more than a week, and that’s a relief.  But the damn Polar Vortex plunged us back into temperature that would be Winter lows many years.  So when I accidentally discovered this totally unexpected sign, I clove to it with near religious fervor.
Unfortunately, the snow has returned and we are expecting several fresh inches over the next couple of days.  All of the work I discovered is buried again.  No doubt a temporary setback for the tiny workers….
Harbinger of Spring

There it was in the cold gray morning
            as I waited for my bus
            at the end of my driveway.

Right there between the round toes
            of my heavy yellow winter boots
            on the old asphalt only recently
            freed of the last ice
            in the cracks the cruel season had opened.

I had to look twice to be sure
            but yes, yes there it was
            the plain and simple evidence
            not to be denied.

Here and there small mounds of fresh soil
            and new holes of
            relentlessly industrious and hardy ants
            mining the frozen earth
just under that shattered slab
erupting defiantly to the surface

Thick snow capped by glistening ice
            prevented their easy emergence
            in the lawn under the dormant trees
            so they chose here
            where only puny human surface
            barred the way
            and mere water cleared the way.

The bus pulled up
            I scrambled on
            and thought about the fresh snow
            yet to come.

—Patrick Murfin

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