a false spring, perhaps, on the kinzua creek

This nearly-spring has come heavy, wet, and white

With twisted backs and heart attacks

To mock our visions of daffodil and crocus.

Still, perhaps not all is in vain:

There are hints of vernal warmth in the scattered sunshine,

Allegations of orioles, rumors of robins,

And at some point, one of us will say

Looks like we just might have made it through another one.

We have cast our lot together

In this cold corner of the Rust Belt,

This land of the staid evergreen and the steadfast, squawking jay,

And though we are not immune to notions of renewal and renaissance

(For how many years have we seen the cardinal brighten,

The pines spawn their cones), we will not giddily consider

Some grand notion of rebirth, as we are content to count ourselves

Among the lesser known kin of the Montagues and Capulets,

Making our peace with the pasts of ourselves and others,

Eschewing dramatic draughts and wailing speeches

For the dignity of endurance, the gallantry of compromise.

Still, as we walk among the inexorable eventuality

Of flowering trees and forsythia, it will come as no surprise

If, with the most economical of notions, I take your hand.


18 thoughts on “a false spring, perhaps, on the kinzua creek

  1. This poem is a winner. Although I don’t live in the Rust Belt, I can relate to many of the lines and images.

    Since my head this week is all things Galileo, your line about the cardinals brightening caught my eye (and renaissance)

    Oy vey.

      1. You mean you weren’t writing about Cardinal Bellarmine?
        I could have sworn…

        Are you ready for baseball season? How about them Cardinals?

        Is Tony LaRussa still the manager?

        We remember him here in Oakland…

  2. oh, this is lovely. it has all the pomp of victorian poetry, and all the sensitivity of a modern love poem. the beginning crawls out of winter to spend the rest of the poem transitioning into a springtime sort of love, but somehow the last line manages to surprise (and delight). romance if i ever saw it.

    thank you for commenting on my poem; i would have never found/enjoyed this otherwise.

  3. I think there are a few ways to go in interpreting your work. I get a sense it has been a very tough year, and that the rebirth and renewal of spring lumbers a bit—perhaps not in accepting its marvels, maybe more so in how it affects the speaker and the one who walks beside.

  4. i hear you…there are lots of reasons to be down but there is still beauty to be seen when not broken…like the R & J reference and i imagine a little comfort in the hand even if just in knowing you walk it together…

  5. I love the gentleness of the ending – the whisper, the lack of overblown sentimentality. i don’t even know anything about the ‘Rust Belt’ but I love the understated approach to Spring.

  6. opportune that you should direct me to this today, when in late january here it seems the forsythia might bloom at any moment. weird. and i really enjoyed your words, here.

  7. What Adam (dustus) said above… And aside from the undercurrents (un)expressed your poem has so many fine lines and expressions, likeAllegations of orioles, rumors of robins,

    This land of the staid evergreen and the steadfast, squawking jay, and

    (For how many years have we seen the cardinal brighten,
    The pines spawn their cones),

    And Looks like we just might have made it through another one. is not something I like to say about any winter (whether of nature or of the heart)… but still, the taking of hands at the end… (hope springs eternal?)

  8. Although our winters are cold down south (with occasional snow), I have no real notion of what it must be like to be snowed in and cold for almost half a year. The sense of deep and cleansing renewal you have conveyed in this piece gives me some insight into how it must be. I love your mention of the birds and flowers regaining their colours, but from the time you mentioned the Montagues and Capulets up till the glory of the final line, I was completely enraptured by your unique ability to put all that brilliant thought into words.

  9. I’m not quite sure whether it’s Spring or Winter here in Illinois. Either it snows or it’s so hot that I wish I’d left my a/c in the window. I looked out my kitchen window this morning and saw two bright and beautiful cardinals in my back yard. I’ve been really blessed to have a yard full of beauty for the last few weeks come rain, shine or snow. Thanks for posting such a beautiful poem. Be blessed.


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