Paul McLaughlin

It's early March, and though our back yard
snow is still as white and dead and cold
as when it fell, our poplar trees as silent,
gray and stark as when they lost their leaves,
our flowerbeds as barren, cold and dead as ice,

today's as soft as May, the sunshine warm
and bright, the southern breezes fair and light.
Excitedly, you drag me out to feel the air,
to feel the sun, to tell me that the winter is too long
here in the North, but not the spring: you love

the spring--the lawns turn green, the poplars fuzz,
the flowers blaze in the woods, the birds return
and life emerges from the death of winter.
I look at you and smile: you bring
the spring to everyone and everything

you love--where we see ice and snow, you see
dormant seeds, leaves about to bud,
embryonic blossoms waiting for the sun.
You stir your gardener's fingers in the icy soil
of our souls and nurture us to be more than we thought

we could; and though it's only March--our too-long
winter has another month to run--
when we're with you, we know the softening snow
is really only water waiting for the sleeping
trees and flowers to be ready for the warming sun.

March 20, 2000