these first eves of spring

Two weeks ago, the world was white. Bare branches and eaves were painted with it, and all the trees that still had leaves or needles sagged, laden with snow. In Carolina terms, this was a flood, six inches deep, that would, within a span of days, recede. And so it has.

I always find myself a little low this time of year—resisting the transition, shy of extra light, and wary of the creep of warmth. It makes me itchy. I feel unprepared, not ready for the planting and the reaping. I’m still hibernating, still living off my frozen stores.

Meanwhile, the trees have shaken off the winter and are rife with buds like painted fingernails and pale green knots of newborn leaf.

Meanwhile, the girls go bare-legged in sleeveless rompers. They let down their swinging hair. The clover has come up overnight, carpeting mud. The yard begins to smell of soil and bread left for the birds (plus the dog’s now-thawed deposits). Tiny purple flowers grow between the blades of grass.

Meanwhile, the insects are awake, encroaching. Meanwhile, the sky goes wide.

Our street now boasts not one, but two discarded couches (both red) in the gullies we count as curbs. This is a time for cleaning out our hoarded comforts, shedding our heaviest layers. But I come to April this year more tightly wound than ever, and unwell in my pile of blankets. My veins aren’t pumping, even in grandmotherly compression stockings; my ankles are aflame with some allergic rash. This nerve nodule in my foot is keeping me from dancing, any dancing. I need more time before the world melts and I have to bare this body to the world—or else risk sinking like Ophelia in her boots and brocade dress. I need more time before Persephone reemerges from the Underworld and my mother does not.

Then again, this is the rhythm of the thing. And summer will bring the garish-glorious Carolina sunsets back. We’ll sit outside, at war with the mosquitoes, and I will eye the spiders on the porch. We’ll drink beer and listen to the radio, like they used to do in songs. And I’ll get used to it, the heat, the loss, the imperfection, the strange and lonely whine of cicadas in summer. I’ll come to love the warm the way I did the winter—just a little more exposed.

If nothing else, the dirt here smells like heaven when it rains.


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