Dry Spring
Paul McLaughlin

Driving home from town 
    I pass a half-built subdivision.
A spiral of dust swirls up
    spins around half-buried lot markers
    and rattles against my car
        like dry rain.

In the woodlots the poplars 
    struggle to crochet a sparse coverlet of leaves
        a transparent yellowish shawl 
    that barely covers the shoulders of the trees.
On the hillsides the grass is still
    the winter-dead colour of desert 

A bewildered vee of Canada geese circles over acres 
    of exposed slough-bottom 
        and lifeless rushes.
Their home has gone to ground
    first a pond surrounded by mud
    then a puddle surrounded by mud
    now a shallow bowl of hard dry cracked black mud.

Ahead of me a raincloud piles up
    and turns black-bottomed.
The parched fields reach up 
    like nests of baby robins when a mother-
    shadow passes overhead.
The cloud-bottom loses definition
    soft streamers of rain drift down

    and evaporate before they reach the ground.

I wash a thin film of fine dust 
        off our once-white patio chairs
    and watch the sky for signs of rain.
There are no song-birds this year
        only an acetylene torch sun 
        in a propane flame sky.

May 2001