Palimpsest: spring poem

I have been inspired. I’m going to start including poetry here. Nancy Bond can do it; so can I.

Nancy Bond, a writer poet photographer in Nova Scotia (where I spent a month the summer I was sixteen–Oh!) boldly puts the word "poetry" into the heading of her blog Soliloquy which I encountered on Blotanical, a forum for blogging gardeners, and the first post I saw on her second blog, All Nature, My Garden, began with a Robert Frost poem. So as I say, she inspired me to include poems from time to time, including some of my own. Here’s one that I’ve got to include soon or not at all this year.

A palimpsest, by the way, is a piece of parchment that’s been used numerous times–written on, scraped, written on, scraped–but never, probably, scraped quite clean (just as it’s almost impossible to erase pencil completely) so that traces of the earlier writings remain, and the parchment becomes a layered history of its many messages.


Spring’s first smell’s the smell of rot,
last fall’s unfinished business
done, quick, before the grass grows.
No: not death first, then life, in orderly progression;
leaf to soil, soil for seed, now all together, sprout!
This slate’s never wiped quite clean.
Whose obsession is that?

It’s grass itself, and fungi, that finish autumn off.
Those first pale greens
spear the dead damp hearts
of blackened leaves and lift them skyward,
an inch or two.

Tut, Nature, tut;
this is how they told us
nothing would get done.

–Kate Gardner

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll mention that this was published eons ago in The Hamline Review: A Faculty Annual (V.20, spring 1996). I doubt they’ll ever know, or care, and I don’t think they’re in the business of running around pursuing copywrite privileges, but there it is. (It’s not as though this poem is a major money-maker for them or for me, more’s the pity.)

2 Responses to Palimpsest: spring poem

  1. Well, I certainly hope you’ll include more poetry from time to time, because that was lovely! Kudos to you…and thanks for the shout out. :) I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  2. Thanks, Nancy, for kind words and the original inspiration. Always glad to shout out about something worth shouting about, and your blogs are. And anyway, spring and poetry are inseparable; there’s no point trying to resist that drift.

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