It could be verse: Life after smackdown
I marvel at how the reed canary grass—taller than a man on a tractor—has been flattened in the field behind the house by something as simple as snow. Last summer the nibblesome sheep couldn’t east it fast enough, and the John Deere, then the borrowed Kubota couldn’t hinder it; it bristled through late autumn storms. But winter, the ultimate smackdown, took it back to the mat, or mud rather. Glover poet Burt Porter reports on what’s left, the look of the landscape after winter’s recession in his poem, ‘April First,’ from his book A Spiral Wind. In this two- stanza poem (“stanza” is the Italian word for “room”), Mr. Porter describes his finding in rhyming lines of iambic. “Iamb” is the Latin word for “foot,” and if you read this poem aloud, you’ll find the rhythm of its syllables nearly matches your own heel-toe, heel-toe (soft-hard) footsteps. Imagine Mr. Porter, who also plays the fiddle, whittling a tune to these lyrics of leaving the room of “the dank bleared ground” and promenading into a field of dandelions “like twenty thousand suns”!
April First by Burt Porter
Now as we watch the snow retreat
We estimate how many feet
Of brown and flattened April field
By melting snow has been revealed.
Dank, bleared ground, long in the dark
Beneath the drifts still bears the mark
Of tons of deep packed trodden snow—
So on this land the marks still show
Of massive glaciers, long ago.
Soon on this field the dandelions
Will glow like twenty thousand suns
And in a world of green and gold
We will forget the winter’s cold,
As in this world of gold and green
With blossoms like a May-day queen
We frolic in the time between
The last and next Pleistocene.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on April 15, 2009 and is reprinted with permission.
Julia Shipley is one of three newspaper columnists in the United States writing about poetry. Her column, It could be verse has appeared monthly in the Barton Chronicle for five years, showcasing the poetry of more than 50 Vermont writers. In May she will present, ”The News from Poems,” a talk on Contemporary Vermont Poetry as part of the Osher Life Long Learning Institute lecture series in Newport, Vt. Her own poems have appeared in Hunger Mountain, Gihon River Review, Bloodroot, Rivendell and elsewhere. Her chapbook Herd was published by Sheltering Pines Press. For more information please go to: www.writingonthefarm.com
Note: Burt Porter will be featured in Vermont Humanities Council‘s event Making Poetry Memorable Through Music, hosted by The Kellogg-Hubbard Libary, Montpelier Alive, and Vermont History Museum on Tuesday, April 12th at 2 p.m. at the Vermont History Museum on State Street, Montpelier.
This program is a part of POETRY Alive! 2011, a joint presentation of The Kellogg-Hubbard Library and Montpelier Alive that is supported in part by the Vermont Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.