Monday, February 22, 2016

Two of My Old Poems for February

I wrote the following two poems long ago, when I was teaching at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. This was in a county (Knott County) so small in population that in 1978-79 there were no traffic lights (well a blinking yellow light by Carr's Fork Lake). I still love these simple poems.

I love the evocativeness of the word "turtle" in the second poem. The word in the Song of Songs is often translated as "turtledove." But I like to use the word "turtle." Some American Indians called this land we call America "Turtle Island." That gives this poem a nice little twist.

February’s Dream

the snow lies thick upon the earth
the groundhog saw his shadow
the nights are long and bitter cold

but I have watched closely
and have seen some signs:

the morning concert of chirping birds
tree twigs turned a shade of red
silver maples’ pregnant buds

I have felt the quickening
first hope in this hard winter

I look for the crocus
and remember the birth
of a love

(Pippa Passes, Kentucky
February 1979)

Song of the Turtle
“and the song of the turtle is heard
throughout the land.” Song of Songs 2:12

our spirits hibernating
like our brothers the bear
our sap slow and deep
our thoughts turned in

but what’s this?

a turtle coos victory over death
the earth quickens
sends out magic crocus
forsythia explode
ecstatic mirror of the sun
redbud promise
dogwood dance under the April moon

our sap is running
our love is blooming
our spirits dancing
to the turtle’s magic song

(Pippa Passes, Kentucky
February 1979)

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