From a layer of the world just beyond
our ability to perceive, the one where birds
learn their songs, and flowers learn their colors
and forms, the release is underway.
You can think of it as a kind of graduation,
a commencement, if you will, where elementals
are applauded and sent forth to play on earth.
Right this very moment, they’re in flight,
preparing to settle into the life-forms
that will let them show their stuff, to blossom,
to sing their eager songs, to burst forth
into the world, enthusiastic and joyful,
messengers of the Great Yes.
All winter, the tin bird kept its post
atop the shepherd’s hook, waiting.
It listened to the music of the wind
as it billowed with snow and clicked
through the branches of leafless trees.
It tasted the cold rains, and the sleet
and the snow that sometimes piled
on its burnished body, and it waited.
On calm days, when the sun’s rays
fell on its back and head and wings,
it dreamed of the green days, recalling
their warmth and the sweetness
of their sounds: the birdsongs,
the peeping and croaking of frogs,
the buzzing of insects and lawn mowers.
But most of all, it dreamed of the whirring
of gossamer wings as jeweled birds
drank at the red feeder that hung
from its hook on those bright days
when the world was warm and green
and alight with the darting of hummingbirds.
So then I came to the playground.
Well, it’s not a playground exactly.
It’s just a set of swings. Fine, sturdy
wooden ones hung from hooked rods
on a high metal frame, well-built,
and sitting there in the woods
by one of the few shelters,
half way between the parking lot
and the forest-lined ponds.
Just looking at them, you could tell
they wanted to be in motion.
It was all I could do not give them a push.
But something held me back. Maybe
it was the silence. Maybe it was the snow.
So I just stood there, listening, and I swear
I heard joyful shrieks and the laughter
of children, and that whining sound
that swings sing.
Places hold their songs and sing them
long after the singers have disappeared.
And here were these swings, full of motion,
even in their stillness, playing memories
through their long winter wait.
Winter is a lot to undo; the earth sleeps deeply.
But the seasons begin the swing toward spring.
Now snow. Now rain. The rain beginning to win.
Beneath the snow, the living things stir.
The tapping sound of rain enters their dreams.
But again the snow falls, returning them to sleep.
Transitions happen one precious now at a time.
The seasons know what they are doing.
It seems to take forever for something to be born.
But look back on a child’s life, on a springtime,
and see how swiftly it flashed by.
Savor this day before the rain, when the snow
drapes the tree limbs with its light. Before long,
it will disappear, and the living things will hear
the rain’s tapping, and rise.
As the second day of March dawned,
it was clear that the lion had not gone.
The roar with which he ushered in the month
was still rolling through the trees. His snow
piled on the ground beneath the maples.
And they, with their accustomed grace,
bore it on their branches as if were a gift,
and a treasured one at that. Jewels perhaps.
Or so it seemed as it shimmered
in the pale sun of this pastel morning.
But then, when you stand here, breathing
it all in – the limbs, the slopes, the light, the snow –
it comes to you that it’s all grace, every bit of it,
and that the lion is roaring Yes.
In came March, like some shaggy old lion
padding through the woods on big soft paws.
It was covered in snow, and when it shook
its mane, the snow flew everywhere,
right up to tops of the trees.
On its back, it carried great leather bags,
laden with surprises for each of the days
that it would stay. And despite the snow
the great beast smelled of springtime
and bits of green poked from its load.
It roamed the woods all day, scattering
more snow with every step, and roaring
now and then just to make its presence known.
When night fell, it curled into the whiteness,
purring in the ferocious way that lions do.
I doubted that it would sleep. It seemed
determined somehow. Despite its age
and the softness of its step, it was fierce
still and bent on proclaiming that March,
unpredictable March, was here.