Just Before Spring
Did I go the wrong way? Maybe fifty
years ago. Maybe last month. A year ago.
The cold days stay and it’s the second
week of April. When you are this old
you have to learn about the day every day,
as the water heats, create some kind of life
before you finish your morning coffee. There
was a time when all I did was play:
with the puppets; it was their world then.
I could build a fort sit there and feel its safety
for any loving length of time. I played ball and
collected acorns in a tin box. Of course I could
do this now, do it all again. Jung did. Each day
it’s the same chair waiting for when the beagle
finds my lap. I wonder about last night, why
the wind brought rain from the north. I wonder
what lonely force brought hate, why now the sky
is cloud empty. The only risk is a walk to town
to buy another cup of coffee, maybe this time
a latte. Maybe someone will be there who
has found a home in the past, one with toy trains,
boxing gloves, maybe a town built of cardboard
where your sixth grade shyness, lives, and the girl
who smiled at you every day now lives next door.
So This Is It
On the last day of the world (a Tuesday)
I’m sitting on an old Adirondack during
a deluge of a thunderstorm. A car drives
by, the water on the street splashing
with each revolution of its tires. The world
too is turning. I know that. It always has.
No slower, no more immediate today.
It’s fun to see an angel perched up on
the corner street light. She—it is she—
lets the rain soak into her lucent skin.
Yes, she’s naked, but not as you think.
Odd, however, is that I see her wings
let the rain roll across the perfect overlap
of her feathers. She’s more like all the birds—
chickadees, junkos, nuthatches, cardinals,
finches that have come to the feeders
hanging from the curly willow a few feet
from our front steps. They are all here
again today. Last night I filled the feeder
just before bed. They usually empty it
in two days. It felt good—and right—
to fill those feeders. We were many
times told this day would arrive.
Those who could have stopped it
didn’t. The rain has become a gullet fall,
no wind. Another car has driven by. I’m glad
I have my coffee and a new book to read for awhile.
JACK RIDL, Poet Laureate of Douglas, Michigan (Population 1100), in April 2019 released Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press). His Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (WSUPress, 2013) was awarded the National Gold Medal for poetry by ForeWord Reviews/Indie Fab. His collection Broken Symmetry (WSUPress) was co-recipient of The Society of Midland Authors best book of poetry award for 2006. His Losing Season (CavanKerry Press) was named the best sports book of the year for 2009 by The Institute for International Sport. Then Poet Laureate Billy Collins selected his Against Elegies for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Award. Every Thursday following the 2016 election he sent out a commentary and poem. The students at Hope College named him both their Outstanding Professor and their Favorite Professor, and in 1996 The Carnegie (CASE) Foundation named him Michigan Professor of the Year. More than 90 of Jack’s students are published, several of whom have received First Book Awards, national honors. For further information about Jack, his website is http://www.ridl.com.