The first snowdrops appeared
weeks ago, pushing through hard ground,
improbably delicate, yet strong enough
to survive cutting wind, the kind
that knifes through to bone
no matter how many layers you
pile on. Winters in Chicago
are long, even now, after climate
change has hastened safe
planting dates, shifted zones
thrown time out of joint. March stil
l brings snowdrops and sharp impatience.
Why must I wait for scilla, crocuses,
chionodoxa, striped squill, reticulated
irises? All the little bulbs, early
bloomers that many wouldn't
bother with, but I love them best
because winter is long and cold
and hard and nothing feels as good
as forsythia finally exploding. I don't
even like yellow.
Last year's cancer was long and hard
as a Chicago winter, the way
our winters used to be, when cold grey
slush crept into your boot tops, as you
dug your car out from its city spot,
hours to get it free, and you threw
a lawn chair in the space and hoped
it'd be waiting when you finally came home
in the dark. If you have to shovel out
another damned spot, you might cry.
Last year lasted too long, and now
impatience bites at my chapped
heels. I am behind on everything
and the ground is still frozen solid
and it is no use trying to dig here,
to sow seed. The roots are still
sleeping, soaking up the slow-
emerging sun. Snowdrops herald
brighter days to come, but now
we play a waiting game.
Tender transplants must be hardened
off, in sheltered spots, a few hours
more each time. A slow accretion,
or they will succumb to the ravages
of wind and even sun. Pace yourself.
Healing has its own schedule; though
you can't see it, day by day the green
tips rise, buds ripen, soon to unfurl.