I went looking for snowdrops. Wanted proof, even in this winter of limp dregs—yellowed circulars for stores no one visits, clothes with zippers quiet in the closet, all of us dragging our bodies around through dirty snow—that something new would come the way it’s always come: shrill chorus of spring peepers, redwing blackbirds’ brash call.
No snowdrops, but the pale stem of one intrepid daylily pushing up through hoarfrost, oak leaves, empties and plastic nips. Someone on this road needs to hide the evidence. Someone on this road might not want to go home.
No snowdrops, but sap buckets on maples, slow drip, fast boil. I sit in the same chair, knit and unknit a hat the color of mint. Sometimes I wonder who figured it all out—who thought to tap and evaporate the colorless almost nothing running through trees into something sweet? Who saw sheep and thought, sweaters? Who decided to pray? Where does patience come from?
No snowdrops, not yet. I walk the loop. Knit and unravel, wind yarn back on the ball.
Because there is no anything. As in, what I believed in.
What I believed in was a flower, symmetrical, predictable. Cruciform, coronate, campanulate. A flower both real and imaginary. Contained in its own logic. Try to see it in your mind’s eye. Before the petals fade and drop. Follow the drift of it, river of it, depth and bottom of it. Fathom that, you and your whale and your anchor. Your quest, your ambergris. What’s in front of you pushed aside, what can’t be digested made precious, the way a mollusk builds a pearl from irritation and nacre. You can’t make that up, the strangeness of it. Like the guy who said a whale swallowed him by accident. He thought it was over. His existence. Had time to think it, before the whale in its irritation at the not-krill in the sieve of its legendary maw spit the man back out. Spit him out entire. Fabulous, lustrous story no one believes, intact.
An eagle announces itself, harsh greeting. You look up, try to catch the sun glancing off the white of its head, so you can be sure. You hate to call something what it’s not. A fox pauses mid-stride, locks eyes, keeps going. Flaming bottle brush tail an unspoken insult to your hairless vulnerability. You’re just a memory. A scent. A rabbit zigzags, freezes, tries to look like anything other than helpless. You’re the rabbit, silent and frozen. You type your name into another SOS text and it autocorrects to Any. That this feels significant is significant. You’ll take any sign you can get. That you hold this mirror up to your distorted image gets you points, no clarity. Bravery of sorts. That you seek to make something from what’s disappearing, falling away, ending makes you what? Any. Any port in a storm. Any day now. Any chance of a cure. Anyone.
Amy Dryansky’s most recent poetry collection, Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry), received the Massachusetts Book Award. She is the Spring ’22 James Merrill Visiting Poet at Amherst College and works for the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.