“April is the cruelest month.”
The next word is “breeding” because April is a month when what is possible is starting to show. At least at this latitude. And because it is my birth month I have often wondered at it. And because T.S. Eliot was born to the backyard of my school – where I went from kindergarten to senior year – and because I walked by so many ancestors of so many minds and hearts, well, I wondered about April. And, yes, he did come and read to us. And he felt very far away from anything I knew.
And because I’m here now and looking back I don’t think I knew anything much then. But that’s not how I felt. Not then. I felt tethered and old. I felt that hall with all those protraits of the Stearns’ and the Eliots and the Greenleafs was interminable and generally unhelpful. And yet, each day as I walked by them I looked at them and also to them. I couldn’t help myself. They were my forebears, related to my conscience, endowed with my education – in other words; on my mind.
They never got to my heart, though and that’s what poetry has come to be part of – not the rhyme or reason of it but the all out passion that it took me years to find in Eliot.
I see his passion now, even in the formality, even in the crusty sound of his recorded voice. It’s a little like thinking your grandparents never had sex – or your parents – or anyone before you – whoever you are. There is something so essential in the cover-up of Everyone Else – no one knows…. how I feel…. who I really am….where I’ve been…where I’m going. It’s a beautiful thing that we feel so implicit in our pioneering, so sure of our newly broken ground.
I love that about spring. That’s what it feels like to me. Newly found, an opening of the many firsts. And, truly, for each one of us, it is completely new ground with our newest, bravest, greenest shoots.
Here’s a poem I wrote for my birthday many years ago.
I am new born. In April again.
I smell a new fire around me.
Welcoming me. I am welcome.
I am molten. I am malleable,
I am vulnerable, venerable, hot steel.
I am the metal on this birthday morning