Welcoming Spring

Amelanchier canadensis is an under story tree native to Maryland's forests whose common names are all about timing. Known as Shadblow, this small tree blooms when shad fish have come to spawn. More often called Serviceberry, these strappy blossoms open when the ground had thawed enough for colonists to bury their dead. In their day, serviceberry meant funeral service. Photo: R. Noonan.

Amelanchier canadensis is an understory tree native to Maryland’s forests whose common names are all about timing. Known as Shadblow, this small tree blooms when shad fish have come to spawn. More often called Serviceberry since Colonial times, these strappy blossoms open when the ground had thawed enough for colonists to bury their dead. In their day, serviceberry meant funeral service. Photo: R. Noonan.

After a stalled spring, much of the Mid-Atlantic region leapfrogged from winter to summer last week. When temperatures reached ninety degrees, spring ephemerals, which had huddled underground in shivering clumps, emerged with the speed of time-lapse photography. Dormant gardens took shape before our eyes. In that spirit, we bring you “The Garden,” a poem in JHU Press author Brian Swann’s  latest collection, In Late Light.

The Garden

Colors are broken down again
into a collection of breathing. They arrived
as if from nowhere. Some stagger and stay.
Some leave, their sirens giving way to
the flame that sips like a clock. I am
walking around pretending to be
on my way, making edges as I go,
the current curling round me
in ribbons, a tongue flicking in eddies.
There are no lines, just flights, quick
and brilliant, sweeping me up. I wish
for them to stop. They don’t.
Everything is rising. Everything is running over.

swannBrian Swann is the author of several collections of poems, including Autumn Road, winner of The Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award and Snow House, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Pleiades Press/LSU Press. His most recent collection, In Late Light, was published by the JHU Press. 

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