Daniel Ruefman is the author of two collections of poetry. His work has appeared widely in periodicals, including the Barely South Review, Burningword, Clapboard House, DIALOGIST, Gravel Magazine, Red Earth Review, Sheepshead Review, and Temenos, among others. He currently teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin—Stout. To learn more visit www.ruefman.com or connect with him on Twitter @RuefmanPoetry.
Spring Again (at age 8)
Crows caw at the edge of the garden;
they peck and scratch at the compost
in that place where we piled it in winter;
they pick at the egg shells, rotten potatoes,
squash rinds, and bushels of apples turned
to mush and vinegar;
the snow melts, water pools in our front yard;
it forms twin lakes, split by the driveway,
from where the willows budding whips
bless the sod, to the shallow ditch
that empties where the leach bed ends;
what’s left of last season’s cabbage
lies sweet in Brace’s fields
where the valley meets the ridgeline;
at the edge of Tamarack Swamp,
the Hackeranians thread dynamite
once more through the beaver dams;
the beavers know what’s coming;
they migrate enmasse to the temporary pools
of our front yard, their bulbous bodies more massive
than they appear in picture books;
but when the blast is felt,
they return home
to gnaw at the poplars and sugar maples;
they always rebuild.
When the weather breaks, head north
to that place where the snow squalls stay,
and wait there by a wood fire
in the cabin on Lake Superior where hoarfrost
glistens on the trees till May.
When snow geese find you, go further
into the land of permafrost
up where the muskoxen munch
on the woody arctic plants
that cling to the rocky outcrops.
When summer strands you in Nunavut,
harvest the sea while you can—
catch king crab, stock salmon
in the smokehouse, and wait
for the ice to come back to you.
When it does, follow the continental cold south,
past the muskoxen plateaus,
pause at the cabin in Grand Marais
just long enough to warm yourself by the fire
until glassine winter skins stretch over 10,000 lakes.
Then go south—
your family is waiting