Cutting Down the Old Growth

March has ended once more.
In Tennessee the trees are gowned
with light green, in Washington
cherry trees sparkle white-pink

parasols. Here the mountain
crevices still glow white, stale sky
shining behind clouds tinged
with gray. Blind to the calendar,

the cold parches grizzled brush,
and small green globes among
the roots drowse. This time last year
the sun burned bright, tepid gusts

pummeling us while we sawed
rubbered wood, breaking the veined
Russian sage, cutting back the sedum
with its hollow branches bent

like straws. We bore armfuls
of wintered husk, remnants of herbs
that grew and died and will grow
again for love of earth and sun.

Today the air, cold and wet,
surrounds us with pinpricked
slivers of moisture, but we spot crocus
blooms poking tiny curled fans

through the soil, latecomers following
their southern and eastern siblings
into the light. I don’t believe it,
but spring is coming like a swan.