Thursday was a tough day at school. The first brush with Spring tends to make my students antsy. They begin to look out the windows more, and they begin yearning to be outside …right now! They are distracted and dreamy, bedazzled by the sunshine and warm breezes, and reluctant to bring their thoughts back indoors – to the work that sits waiting to be done. They are irritable about having to get their books, write, read, and think. Really? they ask, we have to work? why can’t we just go outside and play? And then there is the pushing and shoving – the need to make contact with a nudge here and a poke there. Which, of course, brings on the whining. He’s bothering me with his breathing. I had the rocking chair first and then he stole it when I went to get my pencil.
Thursday was a tough day.
On my usual after-school walk with Sophie, I couldn’t help but think about how often things had gone awry at school. Spring has arrived at last, and my spirits should be lifting…I needed to shake off the day and find my Spring groove again. We made our way back home again, and I just could not bring myself to go indoors again. So Sophie and I plonked ourselves down in the backyard, and just sat quietly in a pool of afternoon sun. We warmed ourselves and listened to birds singing all over the place. It was lovely – all of us rejoicing in Spring.
Such Singing in the Wild Branches
It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.