Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Know This Drill! Snow in April. A Fine Denise Levertov Poem

Sunday it was 79 degrees and we walked around Holden Arboretum au naturel looking at all the spectacular spring flowers (well, part of that sentence is not 100% accurate). This morning it is 29 and snowing, with a few inches expected. We know this drill well in Northeast Ohio. Was it around 2008 when we had 4 feet of snow in April in Hambden Township, outside Chardon (around 2 feet around April 8th; another 2 feet around April 24th)? Of course that was after I had put my snowblower away for the season. My neighbor Bud came to my rescue with his front-end loader. There was no way to shovel that wet, heavy snow off my 100-foot-long driveway. Thanks Bud! So we know the drill. Yet every year we are surprised.

Somewhere in the early 1970's, 1973 or '74, Denise Levertov spent some time at the University of Cincinnati teaching poetry and holding workshops. I'm pretty sure that an old friend, Sarah Cotterill, was in those workshops and was influenced by Denise Levertov. I haven't seen Sarah since the summer of 1976. She was driving through Iowa and I was working at the Catholic Worker House in Davenport. Sarah and I had dinner at a restaurant in the Amana Colonies (a former utopian community). Anyway, I lost track of her and have only seen a bit of her poetry since then.

Somehow Sarah or someone else from the University of Cincinnati gave me a poem Levertov wrote that spring 40 years ago in Ohio. Here it is:

April in Ohio
By Denise Levertov
Each day
the cardinals call and call in the rain,
each cadence scarlet
among leafless buckeye.
and passionately
the redbuds that can’t wait
like other blossoms, to flower
from fingertip twigs,
break forth.
as Eve from Adam’s
cage of ribs,
straight from amazed treetrunks.

Lumps of snow
are melting in tulip-cups. 

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