I want to tell you
there is still snow under the big tree
and a scattering of brown wreaths
trimmed with bedraggled red bows
There are bright plastic lilies
on your mom’s grave and
her neighbors are looking sprightly too
One grave in the next row back is decorated
with a two foot tall plaster rooster
Nearby, somebody named Smith
is blossoming into daffodils and purple tulips
I want to tell you
the snow has to fall
three times on the daffodils
before it’s springtime
later, I’ll go out
and explain to my garden
what your grandma said
There are ditch mermaids
gossiping in spring runoff
at the edge of fields
No seashells here.
Freshwater mermaids know
how to glide by all that trickles and drops
down these steep banks, the trash
caught in the weeds–
plastic bags and dented cans,
takeout styrofoam and Big Gulp cups
Sure, they dream big dreams,
fantasize about wider horizons,
about the lives of their ocean cousins
(who call them mean names–
poor ditch trash, and worse)
But here the fields carry green spring smells
of clover and manure and in their hearts
they are hometown girls who prefer
fresh mud to sea spray
even the worst yards
mud and gravel, sticks, road trash
still daffodils still
crocus bloom purple and white
still robin’s blue eggs
still robins hunting thick worms
in the leaf mold grass
We, your teachers, are running
in busy virtual circles. Picture us
snapping our fingers inches from
your faces. Picture us–if you picture us at all–
waving to get your attention.
Some of you wave back. Some of you
crave connection. Some want to learn
what we still know how to teach.
For you, I post Daily Assignments from far away
Read this. Think about that.
Compose a song or a portrait.
Conduct an experiment within
this experiment we’re living through.
Cite your sources.
Those of you who won’t wave back
or who can’t wave back
I am setting you down, gently,
in the place you like best
whether that is a beach, a forest,
your grandmother’s backyard,
your friend’s kitchen table
or in front of a game on a screen.
Because above all I want,
I want you to be comforted
so play the game that comforts you
Then get dressed. Go outside.
Write a letter or a poem
and send it to someone.
Send it to me
sleepy with the spring
quiet plants, quiet people
breathing in and out
from above, this world
looks gray–but our roots deepen
long before we bloom