I. Ode To April
And I recalled the opening line
Of Elliott's Wasteland:
"April is the cruelest month"
And I think that somehow the same
Could be said of any month,
May, June, July,
And not to forget
November and December.
Indeed things green and things yellow
Are growing quite irrepressibly
And soon a hint of color will crawl up
The bare willows and upon the ash and maple
New foliage will sprout, modest at first,
But growing toward green crescendos.
I remember my grandfather
Was a modernist in his old age.
He would slip into spells of incoherence,
Utter words in odd tongues, not of European origin
On summer afternoons,
He would sit in the shade beneath a tree
And rest his back upon its bark and trunk
And sometimes in fragments,
More often in the gibberish of delirium,
Speak to me like Sybil.
I believe that Spring is strong
And April is not fragile but merely subtle.
Sprouts peek most shyly from the earth,
Green shafts against the black soil,
Tendril roots twisting down.
There is no cruelty in
Of modest beginnings
Or in the small starting of things.
He has closed his eyes and
Oh that I could awaken him,
Just grab his arm and say:
"Grandpa wake up! You walked in the sun too long."
He would open his eyes and look at me,
And mumble something in Arabic
That sounded slightly slurred
And wave his arm for me to go way,
To let him sleep.
The days grow longer and the light
Now streams in the big window
Just after sunrise, and April is the month
Of things sleeping and slow awakenings,
Of fragments that grow
Toward the fullness of meaning.
II. At Lake St. Clair
Fishing at Lake St. Clair today,
Alone on a long pier,
Just north of the power plant
Where the line of steel smokestacks,
The "Seven Sisters" dominate the sky,
And I always think them
The perfect classical form,
Tall and slender as they are,
Ionic columns left standing upright
Amid the rubble of some ruins
The water-tinted orange
In the first light after sunrise,
Its surface choppy and textured
As if painted on a canvas, pasted on thick
With the short pointed strokes of a palette knife,
And I recalled a fragment from long ago:
"White-caped waves sweep the lake--
My father's dreams"
And me picking out with such care
Painted spoons of speckled green,
And a feathered jig with a chartreuse head.
For you know my grandfather was a modernist,
My father was a neo-romantic, but I,
I am a fisherman.
For the measure of a man I know
Is in pike and pickerel and perch.
III. Piano Sonata
Things are most pure in their beginnings,
As if time somehow tarnishes
Innocence and stains
The sweetest intentions.
It is the April of things, rather than their August,
That is most lovely,
Tendrils of hope
With roots that grip tenacious and deep,
The watercolor that seeps across
A sketch of charcoal landscape.
In the rain today
I found a faint trace of music,
A fragment of melody
That is the sound of a piano sonata,
Notes that resonated softly
And make me remember
Black and white summers
When I crossed the river on Macarthur Bridge,
On the surface of the water shining brightly,
The waves gleaming
Like schools of chrome minnows.
It is raining and I hear my grandfather's footsteps
On each wooden step as he walks up the front porch,
I hear him stop to cough and then continue.
Memory is a fragmentary thing.
And I cannot simply decide
And struggle a great deal
And muse endlessly upon the troubling question:
Is it the April within us that God loves?
Or is the April within us God's love itself?
(c) 2002 Doug Tanoury
Doug Tanoury is primarily a poet of the Internet with the majority of his work. His verse can be read at electronic magazines and journals across the world. The greatest influence on Doug's work was his 7th grade poetry anthology from Sister Debra's English class: Reflections On A Gift Of Watermelon Pickle And Other Modern Verse (Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders and Hugh Smith, (c)1966 & Company) He still keeps a copy of it at his writing desk.