redbuds bloom, and the forest
floor covered with phlox,
gray sky hanging down
as the river flows over its banks
staining the cornfields with brown pools.
I am going back to visit that place of rust and ruin
solvents poured out the backdoor of a bomb factory
crumbling asbestos, lead paint peeling,
friends struggling with cancer. When I gathered
so much environmental health data
that no one wanted to hear
finally I had to leave. The one thing I learned
stumbling over the broken brick wall
of an abandoned paper mill
to pause beside the cracked dam
where the creek sings as it falls
is how persistently spring returns
even after ice layered up so thick
breaks the branches of century-old maples
and the pump dies and the furnace won’t work
outside mouse-ear chickweed opens beside jonquils
wolf spiders as big as my hand leap and spin
and one April walking beneath a stand of dead oak
I found a turtle working its way up out of red mud.
June comes along the edge of fallow fields
peppering the green with tiny hearts
wild strawberries sweeter than sugar
popping one after another on my tongue,
I realize we die or survive. Spring comes.
I am going back to see it once again.
Ann Filemyr now serves as the Academic Dean at the Institute of American
Indian Arts in Santa Fe where she also teaches in the BFA Creative Writing
program. She got her start as a poet in Milwaukee and is returning to give
a reading at Woodland Pattern on Sunday, September 30 at 2 pm and share
her two new books of poetry, The Healer's Dairy (Sunstone Press, 2012) and
Growing Paradise (LaNana Creek Press, 2011). She received an MA in English
at UWM with an emphasis in Poetry and her PhD from Union Institute & The
University of Ohio.