Spring - Sophia Nuget Siegal

Edge: Seasons of Childhood (Peak District, Derbyshire)


life holds on
in the unpretty straggly way that it does
holding its fortress of green
against the onslaught of frosts
all claws and sharpness
these little weeds
and then the lichen
feeling toward the waning sun
survives by inches
unable to let go of even a single stick of fur
making its own dirt on the rock

I told a lie once
a pretty story
about a cornucopia cave
beneath the stump cut beside the path
that it was somewhere we could hide
there isn’t anything there except life
the small surprised roots carrying on
with the silent awful news of their own existence

all faeries are green except the ones in the desert
and those are made of fire
but the ones here are frightened of the light
frightened of the poisoned flowers lying beside them
and the house stretched like a slab in their midst
possessed also by dampness and lichen

when the spring comes there are flowers in the rock garden
struggling to the surface as a testament of roots
somewhere the flowers twine together tangling their delicacy into a bramble
attending together the sickness of the sun

I look out of the conservatory’s glass walls
lifting my hands to the transparency and spreading them like petals
like a bad mime pretending to be in a box
I watch the grass cast off the dew into their roots
shaking the sword-point of each stalk like a wet dog

only the grass dries outside
we still do our own clothes on heaters
once I tried to give myself a fever from one of those
holding it till it burnt, but somehow I was just too cold

I know I could open the latch and walk out of this place full of detritus
and unfinished things
and I could dry the grass with my hair and run my fingers along each stem
I could feel the new slight chill coming up through the earth
as if somewhere in the centre was ice and I could look up at the blank sky
and see the unused washing-line arcing overhead still reminding me of bounds

once I lay on the ice before this and felt water in my heart
unfreezing itself for the heat of my body
the sludge of the human touch making an angel out of me
ungainly as a sitting seal, moved by flippers

for that is always the problem with spring
haunted by memories of winter
whereas winter is itself
it is not a metaphor for anything but what it is
it is cold

spring is watery
full of quick cold showers that hardly make a noise
it is an unreverberating season of stocking feet
the slight echoes of roofs
it is a struggle still for life as it reclothes itself
returns from the excavations
to find its skin raw and dead
and the stillness is broken by the ruffling feathers of the ground

we try to receive the caress of the little weak rain
standing with our mouths open inside
hoping somehow for drips
but we really only go outside for the mowing the gathering in
the reaping
up in the attic I lay out my offerings to the goddess a stalk at a time
and think of the burning to come

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©