Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Forward

Welcome to Poetry Friday. The multi-talented Robyn Hood Black hosts the roundup over at Life on the Deckle Edge

Here in the Deep South we can see the air. It's yellow. I could probably make a pollen angel on my picnic table. And it's taken me all week to adjust to darkness in the morning  and daylight at night. I hope your spring forward landed smoothly. Mine led me to a new friend.

It's always fun when you accidentally find a kindred spirit. I've mentioned before that I am enjoying Sarah Arthur's collection of meditations, Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide (Paraclete Press, 2016). This week I was captured by a poet I had not encountered before and a poem that I lingered over for days. 

In hopes of sharing the full poem with you, I contacted the poet, Abigail Carroll.  She graciously responded with her permission to share. In the conversation, I learned that she is dipping her poetic toes into the world of children's poetry. I asked what drew her to children's poetry. Here is her reply:
I began writing children's poetry when I began asking my friends with young children whether they ever read poetry to their children, and their responses were, essentially, "Why would we?" They seemed to think that only stories, that is, writing with a strong sense of character and plot, would hold their children's attention. This saddened me. I remember as a child reading the enchanting poetry book Hailstones and Halibut Bones, by Mary O'Neill (originally published in the 1960s), and feeling both a sense of enlightenment about the possibilities of language (though I wouldn't have had the words to describe this at the time) and a strong sense of enchantment with the world around me. Reading that book made me fall in love with poetry. I fear that many children's exposure to poetry is limited to rhyming stories, which certainly have value, but which often fail to embody and model the rich possibilities of what a poem can do and be. In the vein of O'Neill, I hope to offer children accessible poems that invite them to observe what is around them closely and value it for what it is, appreciate the beautifully simple and complex relationships we call metaphors and similes, and learn to love the possibilities of language, which can function as a tool that helps us see in new ways. 
My thanks to Abigail. Enjoy!

Spring Forward
by Abigail Carroll

The crocuses have nudged themselves up
through the snow, have opened, never
     are opening,
always daring. Ephemeral prophets,

first of the sun's spring projects, purple-
throated chorus of will-have-beens--
     year after
year, their oracles outlast them. Cold's

empire has not yet been undone, but
the cardinals have begun to loudly declare
     its undoing
which is as good as the thing itself, as good

as the gutters' wild running, the spilling
of rain down the tar-slick roof, the filling
     and pooling,
the annual re-schooling of earth

in the vernal properties of water. A bud
both is and is not a flower: furled flag,
tongue of summer, envelope of fire--

What is this world but a seed of desire
some dream-bent farmer sowed in a field
     waiting for
the end of winter, waiting to be getting on

with the business of timothy and clover?
Light sends itself, a missive fro the future:
     it's shining,
a definite shined, a bold, unquestionable

having shone--this because of the paths
it travels, the distance it flies. The crocuses
     shiver; still
they will not be deterred from their singing,

from the sure and heady prospect of their
having sung. The notion of green has not
     yet occurred
to the ground--twig tips, bulbs, cattails,

bark: all stuck in a past perfect of gray--
but green has occurred to the sun. A kingdom
     is in
the making--and in the making has come.

Abigail Carroll is a poet and author whose first book, Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal (Basic Books, 2013), was a finalist for the Zocalo Public Square Book Prize. Her forthcoming book is a series of forty letters to Saint Francis of Assisi (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016/2017). Her poems appear in the anthology Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide(Paraclete Press, 2016) as well as in numerous magazines and journals, including The Anglican Theological Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midwest Quarterly, River Oak Review, Sojourners, Spiritus, and Terrain. In addition, her words have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and Boston Globe.  Carroll holds a PhD in American Studies from Boston University, where she has taught history and writing. She makes her home in Vermont, where she enjoys walking in the woods, discovering new swimming holes, and photographing nature.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for introducing me to this poet and work, Doraine, and thanks to Abigail Carroll for sharing. I was irrevocably hooked at "Ephemeral prophets."

  2. Oh my, Doraine, this is so beautiful. What a thought-filled work of words. I love that you got to share it with us, and this stanza: "What is this world but a seed of desire. . ." I will keep this one!

  3. Ah Doraine, there is so much to love in this poem about spring! Thanks for going to the trouble of getting permission to share it with us. It will be interesting to see what Ms Carroll comes up with for children.

  4. Robyn chose the words that resonated with me. I kept going back to read how the poem was introduced with those words luring me to return, Doraine. I can see why you were captivated by this poem and contacted the author to share with us. Thank you.

  5. Many parts of this wonderful poem resonated with me, but especially "they will not be deterred from their singing" which is how I feel about writing poetry.