Rave On

For days, I’ve inhabited the post-root canal world where a sledgehammer banged my jaw. This morning, my young daughter made me coffee and noted, You’re laughing. You must be coming back to life.

This first of May, a steady rain is muddying the woods, jamming the streams near to full, washing clean every bit of green in the garden. Bring it on, I think: frog eggs, emerging salamanders, the ephemerals untangling from the matted forest floor. New England winter is spare, stripped down to straight lines, but spring is all wild, unfurling mightily and messily.

Yesterday, in my broken tooth stupor, I drove to Montpelier to hear poetry. Dede Cummings, of Green Writers Press, read Birches extraordinarily well in that quiet, sun-filled room. Like numerous people, that poem has risen many times in my life, from the first I read it, in 8th grade, to most recently a few summers ago, when my friend Tim Smith had my daughter read it aloud before dinner one gorgeous Colorado evening.

This afternoon, my body unknotting from pain, the neighbors’ boy turning ten this very day, the children enmeshed in their imaginative worlds, our kitchen filled with the fragrance of baking cinnamon, I think, what sheer luck to live in a world where Birches is possible. What sheer luck, this down-pouring day.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

– Robert Frost, “Birches”


May 1/Woodbury, Vermont

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