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March’s Lovely Asymptotes

The property line melts into forest, its late winter browns
Like a beast’s pelt; oaks hunched like sleeping bear;

Beech and birch extend into ugly candid possum hair,
And elms and maples muster into a passel of woodchuck.

The air waited on first signs of spring, curling up like smoke
Through your lips – petals thin as pencils, yet capable of shape

And form; they’re forced into a smile by a late March sleep
Being much too late for April showers. The ice is glassed

Over, bonding yesterday afternoon’s puddles into a crust,
The gouged march of cattle habitual for bleak pasture;

The frozen prints are filmy, each a black and white fish-eyed fissure
That gazes up from feathery hooks to ultimate grey; outside

We’ve come to test the meadows and taste the weather, greyed
As tombs. Embraced by down and wool, we try hard to ignore

The vestiges of conversational winter, snow that quipped before
In patches defers now to gelid mud. The quiet of the fire

In the parlor stove lives on – but questions hang in the air
Beyond their usefulness – like the organic smell of summer cotton

Released as a felt presence in the room by the heat of an iron.
So thickly dressed, you could be woman or man; though your feet

Are deliberate with feminine pause, your eyes have decided to fight
The urge to ever meet on the issue but maintain the differences

Like valleys that separate the hills with everlasting distances.
With half-hearted barking, geese announce their return, bounding

The fields with pump-handled pinions rising, falling, finding
Their shadows threading like dolphins through a splintered sea.

You look up at them and their shadows across the valley.
Your smile relaxes, warms up, shares the sky and ground with no one.

Your glance takes in the entire landscape without love, but then
You allow that spring may overwhelm us at any moment; I gather

Your silhouette by heart; it is the short memory of ice. The weather
Is turning chalky blue. (The day’s vanishing point held us where we stood.)

A slight breeze stirs the sleeping forest from its impenetrable mood;
The cold air pushes our shadows together. We share the horizon

To search for where a once-familiar tree is a woodpile now forgotten.


  1. Recalls the best of myself in my Robert Frost period.

    Makes me feel hopeful and kind of sad both.

    Thanks so much.

    • Are you still holding a grudge against Hemingway? You shouldn’t, you know. You can write (if not drink) him under the table any day of the week – including Sunday Mornings…


    • I had to write a paper about one of your poems in Eng. Comp. in 1969 or thereabouts. I didn’t get it all, and I probably hated you, but I’ve gotten over it now. I’m not that crazy about Hemingway either.


      • So it sounds like what your saying is that in contentment you still feel the need of some imperishable bliss…

        I know – I feel that way myself sometimes.


  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Oh, bravo, sir.

    It was 70 Fahrenheit and sunny here today, but you made my breath visible.

  3. I feel as if the Australian spring has been cheating me for the last eighteen years.

  4. Beautiful Papa.=) I look outside and I see your poem.

  5. Quin Finnegan says

    Nice! I like the subject matter, of course, but I like those geese and the last line most of all.

  6. I wish I’d heard you recite this in person. I think the measure of a poet is winter… or that time of winter when everyone else has lost the stamina to apprehend its loveliness.
    Much obliged.

  7. PS Must be some muse

    • Father,

      No, much obliged to you for stopping by – here and elsewhere!

      And thanks for the kind words!


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