A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Elaine is standing on her stoop with her doddering chow Teddy, and I am trying to decide if I can pretend I don’t see her. Elaine has a shout like a blue jay’s and she specializes in the unanswerable. “Dawn!” she hollers now, “I can’t recognize you if you’re not wearing a hat!” Meekly I halt and admire her daffodils. “I dug them up by mistake,” she barks. “Now I don’t have a-one.” Next door, at LBRSTMN’s ranch house, there is no shouting. The license plate on his pickup is the only information available. Otherwise: shades drawn tight, a note to the mailman taped to the door, a needle on the front sidewalk, and daffodils bobbing along the foundation: yes, there will be daffodils in every stanza of this poem because it is spring in Maine, and all people except for teenagers are still wearing their winter coats, and the maples in the backyards are bare-armed wrestlers, and the gutters are scarred with sand and cigarette butts, and the breeze kicking up from the ocean makes us lift our muzzles like hounds. O wind and salt! Daffodils tremble in the yard of the pro bono lawyer, tremble among the faded plastic shovels of her children. A woodpecker shouts among the bald maples and Elaine maligns me: “I don’t know why you’re outside so much. You don’t even have a dog.” She makes me feel like dirt but that’s not so bad. A swirl of sea-gale buffets the chimneys, twigs clatter onto Subarus. Daffodils, yellow as eyes, breast the wind. Earth is thawing, they shout, they shout, and I, on this half- green bank, unfurl into their arms.
Dawn Potter’s many books include Chestnut Ridge (Deerbrook Editions, 2019).
Copyright 2020 Dawn Potter