April: some notes

by Jeff Oaks

It’s snowing again. Only two days ago I was sitting in a sunlight so warm and strong I ended up with slight sunburns on my arms and face. I was wearing shorts. The dog was panting in the shade. Now it’s snowing.

I’m trying to tell myself that this snow is just the last remnants of winter being torn up and thrown at us like confetti. We’ve won. Spring has reconquered the world. But there’s only so far that kind of metaphor will go.

April’s cruelties are well-known. Its instability of temperament. Its mix of swamp and first flowers. It doesn’t do any good to even hate it, like we learned to do with winter this winter.

The little birdsongs of it. Its taxes. Its registration and inspections. The winds that suddenly turn my little patio into a clatter of garbage lids and stray plastic bottles from the street. The ugly matter of the flowerpots, some cracked and broken, from which I’m sure even the unkillable mint will this time not return. I mean, look at it.

But for me, April is also the end of the term. I’m done teaching all the hard part. It’s the month of revisions and workshops, of last meetings, of summer reading lists and travel plans. This week is an amazing week: I have no assignments to grade this past weekend and none this weekend.

I write love poems. I am almost giddy with freedom. I can’t get enough of the gym. I hum pop songs. The sky grows strange with omens and signs. The old armor falls off in an avalanche of silver thimbles the canes of the river raspberries snatch away to study and reforge.