(for a colleague who asks, “How will you be human today?”)
Events exceed what verse can render…
Ice of east wind over wave-white lake in spring.
Fall’s wasp nest: cold combs rip and flake in spring.
Ductal breast carcinoma: cancer’s mad cells outdare programmed death,
Like homeland that stranger wood and weed overtake in spring.
Who watched the full moon rise over Laeken in winter?
Who watches it fade and fall over Molenbeek in spring?
A switchback hillside, a squall-haunted farmhouse stripped to insulation;
Uncertain hallways drift, ice rooms of wind shake in spring.
Love and wine – wine deep as squill spread blue, love
Snow-drowsy as frogs that chant themselves awake in spring.
Day breaks new-broken stones at the Temple of Baalshamin;
At Idomeni, daylight’s razor wire as a keepsake in spring.
Thus the one doorway. The only other, though, is law –
As true as hard, like moonrise and daybreak in spring.
Or you could try to look for blessedness: In doorways.
In snowdrops. In a wasp nest. In heartache. In spring.
Waves marble blue, headland wood afloat and green and nearing –
But summer’s a journey that none can make in spring.
You’re afraid to answer. Ashamed to answer. Instead, you sign
Your name: Your old year misstep. Your mistake in spring.
James Scannell McCormick holds a doctorate in creative writing-poetry from Western Michigan University. His works have appeared in Unsplendid, Antiphon, and THINK. His poem “Lot (Hermes in Tulips)” was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize; his poem “Trouble” was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize. He currently lives and teaches in Rochester, Minnesota.