April Diary 21: Where are the snows of yesterday?

river in November light between bare woods and mountain
This entry is part 21 of 31 in the series April Diary


Dear April does photography lead to better seeing or just different seeing? while making breakfast, the garlic heads on the windowsill catch my eye: patterns of sunlight and screen shadow

it’s only after i’m done processing the photos on my phone that i look more closely and see the tip of a sprout poking up. how could i have missed that?

spring kitchen
one garlic head’s
green tongue

it occurs to me later that the resulting photo haiga is more than illustration, since the view of snow through the window adds an extra element for reverie that otherwise would’ve required a couple of additional lines. a tanka in other words

driving to State College for our biweekly grocery shopping, i’m a little shocked by how little snow there is in the valley

but by the time i get back two hours later south-facing slopes are already bare up here as well with temperatures climbing into the low 50s by early afternoon. sic transit gloria nivis

as i drove past the bottom corner of our old field a large white bird flew up from a patch of snow and circled low, its barn-red tail giving away its identity but it took a few moments to shake the initial startling impression that the snow itself was taking flight

on the way up i had the unusual experience of following a car that happened to be driving the exact same speed as me for the entire distance from Tyrone — got on the interstate ramp just ahead of me — and when they took the same three turns i take going to Wegman’s i actually wondered whether they were somehow following me even though clearly i was following them without meaning to

fortunately they weren’t actually going to the same store

and this is exactly the sort of extremely minor incident that can make diaries such a snooze, is it not

down hollow at mid afternoon to inspect the wildflowers. some hepaticas have lost petals but the majority seem ok. the black cohosh sprouts seem unfazed as do the wake-robins which the snow happened to catch in mid-unfurl

it was tempting to hang out beside the trillium patch and watch as they ever so slowly straighten up — something i identify with, though my own winter isn’t so easily left behind

i love folk holidays like 4/20. pity there isn’t a folk saint to go along with it (yet) but the story of how it got started by some high school students who would meet after school to get stoned reminds me of the stoners i went to school with—super-friendly working-class kids for the most part, and just about the only group that wasn’t a clique judging by their occasional overtures to someone like me, a total weirdo bookworm

i guess it’s good i didn’t let my loneliness get the better of me. then again i rarely do

climbing the ridge i keep stopping to nosh on garlic mustard leaves fresh from under the snow and still slightly damp like supermarket produce. not quite as tasty as rocket/arugula but in the same ballpark, spicy-bitter. a handful of snow to melt in my mouth and wash it down.

poetry as revelation, revelation as poetry: that’s what i’m ruminating on as i walk. charismatic creator figures who are somehow not female. faith as a willing suspension of disbelief no matter how its proponents like to dress it up as something more. and i remind myself that that not all creators are jealous, and most revelations from a professional diviner are going to be exactly as minor and personal as the subjects of most poems. prophets are basically griots who have gone rogue

or something like that

this morning in the bedroom i surprised myself by killing a spider i’d been watching, just crushing it with the heel of my palm. i started bawling out my hand like that was its fault—what did you do that for?!

it reminded me of a Lucille Clifton poem:

cruelty. don’t talk to me about cruelty
or what i am capable of.

when i wanted the roaches dead i wanted them dead
and i killed them. i took a broom to their country

and smashed and sliced without warning
without stopping and i smiled all the time i was doing it.

it was a holocaust of roaches, bodies,
parts of bodies, red all over the ground.

i didn’t ask their names.
they had no names worth knowing.

now i watch myself whenever i enter a room.
i never know what i might do.