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Incantations Of April
Still winter, and on the local station
Two harvest tunes play out
Their peasant arguments in the dark
Chocolate of a cello, in the keyboard's
Rumble and pluck. So what
If the radio's late, four months
Behind the weather? I'm already
One season ahead, packing up
The corduroy and the watch cap,
The crow's foot jacket in black wool.
Already I'm sniffing the ravaged air
For an odor of new earth, vaguely vaginal,
Compost and loam where the seedlings
Sink their roots. Already I'm turning
Back from stars in their cold glow, and scouting
For sunslicks on the lawn, for the pout of tulips,
Long legs and a painted mouth.
If the trees, bent and bare, look like
A mind naked to its worst woes,
What's that to me? Moonmad before my time,
My mission's not to stammer down the streets
Like a salt truck, but to cast a spell
On the calendar, in risky chants, in syllables
Of slow elation, and call up on faith
The random primitives of spring, taking it all
As far as the eye can't see.
-- Elton Glaser

Mockingbird At Winter Solstice
What a small many-greyed grapple of agitation
the mockingbird is, jittery on a thin branch
covered in berries but leafless, keeping one eye
and then the other on me, shifting its position,
unsettled by what my next move might be.

But at the opposite solstice this bird's songs
are the life of leaves in which he's an invisible singer,
sending melody after melody abroad, sweetening
space -- even after midnight -- with mimic music,
making the dark itself less dreadful, building

a nest of notes to feel at home in, though it must
be hard with so much to say, so many tunes
swirling through the honeycomb of its bones,
edging out of the white furnace of every feather
to swell its lone throat, setting its voice-box on fire.
-- Eamon Grennan

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OnEarth. Winter 2007
Copyright 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council