The crocuses are up early across the Northeast this year, the year with more or less no winter. I saw crocuses weeks ago in New York, and now they’re here in New Hampshire. Helen’s crocuses, a carpet of spring color on a neighbor’s lawn, planted decades ago by Helen Johnson when she was still alive, most likely long before I knew her when she was young, are blooming. I wrote about the crocuses on this blog last year, including the poem about Helen and her flowers that was published in my chapbook of poetry, Fever of Unknown Origin.
Here’s another poem from Fever of Unknown Origin, this one about Norm Johnson, Helen’s husband. Norm was a wonderful neighbor and a good friend. He would pull his jeep over to the side of the road when he saw me in my garden and I’d go stand at his window and we’d chat. Helen and Norman both died many years ago, but I think of them often as I look around my neighborhood, a lovely farm landscape they helped create and maintain throughout their lives.
And one interesting note, you can buy a copy of Fever of Unknown Origin on Amazon, for $3.00, or $66.00 or for $161.62. If you want the $166.62 copy, let me know and I’ll make a deal with you.
Stakes sawed raw at the point
slit the earth, hitting frost
only once all day, a good day,
for a body yanked by years
to this stiff heave from the cart
to help hold the barbed wire taut.
Most days are spent in a seat –
bucket loader, tractor, dump truck, mower,
these days mostly the jeep –
chatting with neighbors, napping, watching
one day as the milk herd is loaded into trailers
strangers drive away.