Poetry Series: March into April; Product; Morning, Late February

By Jim Krosschell 


March into April

“I have an appointment with spring.”

Google informs me
that none of the two million words of Thoreau’s Journal
offer any description, drawing,
or meticulous tracking of the emergence,
in spring, of the crocus.
I would have liked to compare
his feelings with mine.
I would have liked to exceed his joy
in even one small way,
for if I plan it right,
I can meet spring’s true and lovely sybil
not merely for a week
of walks between Walden and Concord
but for a month or more,
March and April, when
the distance between houses
of two hundred miles, not two,
makes a double spring. (Or prolongs winter.)


I also walk, and in the yarded, tended city
I look intently for her spears
of purple, white, and yellow
pushing directly out of dirt
and stabbing the eye,
soft and hard at once.
Well, perhaps I have exceeded his joy.
He writes much of love, nothing of sex.


When I walk in Maine
he is at my side.
We don’t find too many signs
of the strife among people.
Nor will we find crocus for a while.
There’s not enough light and heat yet
to bud in her bed. Cold keeps her safe
until she’s ready.
But she will arrive, in April,
in the natural course of things.


For whatever reason
he could not (or was not allowed to)
find sexual love.
He did find love in general human kindness,
and of course in chipmunks and perch, orchids and trilliums.
Perhaps that’s a better way to understand death.


But nature is changing now, unreliable.
Spring comes earlier and earlier.
Our flowers bloom several weeks ahead of his.
A quarter of the plants he recorded
have perished from the earth,
especially the cold-loving wildflowers.
And now the crocus too is rare,
lunch for the mice and chipmunks,
who, nearly-tame, have colonized
our lawns and sit down with them like diners.


Plants in the northeast need winter,
a chilling period of rain and snow and ice,
as perhaps do I.
How many walks do I have left?
How many stabs of vigor?
Whence the thrill of emerging from February?
Will spring still “come to the window to wake me”
and climb into my bed?



for Bill McKibben

The word was invented
when English was young:
from productum, Latin, something brought forth,
merely meaning, then, the result of x times y,
until the nineteenth century, full of iron,
disfigured life, nature, language altogether,
hard and brutally, but not yet ironically,
which the twenty-first neatly takes care of,
as vast wealthy hordes of us leave our fruitful careers,
but not our cultural training in being productive.
                             (can’t just rest, you know, must do stuff)
                gardens, libraries, pools  →   the accounterments of castles
                pickleball, golf, regattas  →   the proxies of one-upmanship
                travel, shopping, dining  →   the mementos of consumption
                painting, pottery, poetry  →   the redemptions of capitalism
                charity, boards, memoir  →   the canonizations of birthright
One poor Dutch-American schmuck (me)
reviewing his output at age seventy-two,
still blames the Father (John Calvin)
who said, on his deathbed,
“What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when He comes?”
Yes! (I wish?) At least take a moment,
for (let me break it gently to you all)
the dark Lord is already burning up the sky,
and even the civilized things you plan to do
further consume Our Eaarth. 

Breathe in now while we can.

Remember the Proto-Indo-European root –
per, forward, deuk, to lead –
and get out our checkbooks,
fill up our calendars,
and re-write Act Three
of the coming catastrophe.


Morning, Late February*

The sun is still low in the southeastern sky,
but slipping through ash trees an omen of May
alights on my pale winter face like a flame.

                       Remain still.

Don’t think it, don’t mull it, don’t chew it, don’t try

                       to foretell

the snow that will fall by the end of the day,
the doom of the carbon engulfing our realm,
the house on a ledge by the sea in my dream.

Remember that we get our manna of joy
administered only in crumbs, out of time.


*Morning, Late February has previously appeared in Panoply.