Poet’s Corner: Letting down the floodgate
Here is the long season of forgiveness.
Love leaves only the lilies
wanting from a ghostly harvest:
The fruit was too green to pick,
the stalks were torn from their roots.
Soon evening spring rains
will be the blessing and commission.
Skin will be night air.
Dawn throated songs begin
I am a poor king: bird on a branch,
stone picker, woodsman, herdsman.
My stable small, my fields flinty
pitched and far from the river.
My vestments made from the blotted
leaves of trout lily stitched
with lichen fast to the rock.
Sun skiff under a passing cloud
a ranging coronation of grace and speed:
Give up your grip, let down the floodgate.
The middling mountains will hold
your silt, wing flaps, meanders,
— By Ross Thurber
Ross Thurber is a poet and farmer from southern Vermont. He recently published “Pioneer Species,” his first full-length collection of poems. His work has appeared in various literary journals and in the anthology “So Little Time,” published by Green Writers Press. He was awarded the Emily Mason Fellowship in 2012 at Vermont Studio Center. He lives in Brattleboro with his family, and owns and operates Lilac Ridge Farm, a third-generation organic dairy and diversified hill farm.
The thoughtfully crafted poem “Ground Truthed” by Vermont poet Ross Thurber speaks of this transitional time of year we are in with precise beautiful language. Some images hold a sense of promise while others suggest loss, challenge, or frustration. So much can happen in the wintery times of our lives, and the shift into spring isn’t always easy. Suggestions of this appear in unexpected phrasings like “lilies wanting from a ghostly harvest” and “the fruit was too green to pick.”
The poem moves through uneven rhythms and tones in the early stanzas. There is the hopeful “Soon evening spring rains” and the evocative “Skin will be night air.” But not quite yet. We are first brought into the life and landscape of the speaker with his flinty fields and stones and asked to stay for a bit in this place that can be only what it is. Then the tone shifts, and we are reminded we are heading somewhere. The light is shifting and we are invited to as well.
It seems every morning in my neighborhood, a new bird has returned, or more have gathered. A few weeks ago I could hear only one lone chickadee singing. Now there is at least a quartet. And the cardinal’s note is loud and clear. “Dawn throated songs begin each day,” as the speaker says. His lush language encompasses many places and directions at once, allowing us to experience the multiple realms of this literal and emotional landscape.
By the last stanza I feel I’ve traveled to some of these places and then some: the circuitous path toward winter’s end, the strident hours of early spring, a falling back, and the final surge ahead. I feel my own hand’s grip loosening a bit, and a sense of opening to the shifting energy of this in between season. And gratitude for those “middling mountains,” whatever they might be for each of us, with their ability to hold and witness all this shifting.
Susan Jefts is a poet and educator living near Middlebury whose work has been published in various regional and national literary journals. She is currently finalizing a book of poetry and offering workshops using poetry to move into the energy of spring. For more info, contact her at [email protected]. Her website is manyriverslifeguidance.com.
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