“April is the cruellest month,” wrote T. S. Eliot in Part I of The Waste Land, and I agree. This month has been a really difficult one for me with its shadowy ruff, “breeding” as Eliot says, “Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/memory and desire …”
So in that contemplation I am offering up this poem—not in the collection of my selected work coming out from Alan Squire Publishing this Fall, but certainly in keeping with its title and theme: Navigating the Divide.
It is a poem of hope, which I believe is the essence of this month’s meaning and of the many celebrations that illuminate it, and it is a poem of promise, a reminder that in dark times faith diminishes the great void, leaving us with the riddles written in its reflection.
Twig-end of winter—
black sticks poke through
the icy ruff,
old grudges buried under.
I am a tired woman with a hoe.
rocks and frozen water stubbornly separate.
Over and over again this cramping earth
convulses, giving birth
as my friends give birth, teasing
the new life out with promises that, no,
death will not happen again.
I’d like to believe in
a world that’s always green,
but the set line of my jaw
the way my bones take over flesh,
insisting on angles.
I am not the woman I used to be.
More dead are locked in earth’s
hard coffin. My fingernails are shorter.
Let me unfold the thin red cloth of my hysteria,
spread a picnic for us,
here, in the midst of all my worry
a place where we can talk beneath new sunlight.
I long for that first fingertip of heat.
And, let me think, for a moment,
that one small, shining rivulet
can be worm its way into winter’s tough core,
blow it wide with warmth
like an old pear splitting.
Let me believe now, while summer
memories buzz before my closed eyes,
that rivers can run again, the
dry earth flood and inundate.
Let me wriggle hip and ankle
out of the hard calyx,
whole again, white soul ajar.
—Linda Watanabe McFerrin