After the Long Bitter Season
Each day in April, they are here again,
high on the open slopes, under the pine,
beside the suddenly garrulous streams,
pushing up from last summer's cemeteries:
the iris, the lupine, the baby blue eyes.
and we are waiting for each new appearance—
each new signal of redemption—
the earth returning to us again
after the long bitter season.
I want to talk about the Calypso orchids,
here this Wednesday all at once—
two days of the sun's touch just enough
to coax them out from the cold.
Winged pink petals on leafless stems,
they grow where least expected,
the ground rocky, inhospitable, shrouded
with sparse dead pine shards.
Each year we think to find them
in a kinder context, the new, tender
grasses of a meadow, perhaps, but no,
this is the soil, the shade, the hardship
that sustains them.
I want to sit down on this stony hilltop,
in the middle of this bitter year,
watch how the orchids
launch their pink parachutes out
between one darkness
-- Jacqueline Kudler
She was born in the city
of music boxes, of Brahtwurst,
of collective pride and guilt,
of history ingrained
in its medieval walls,
and the limestone tribune
where on some nights
you still hear
My daughter was young then
with red curls and freckles,
with wobbly steps
on cobblestontes where once
Minnesaenger had sung
in Middle High German
von freuden, hochgeziten,
von weinen und von klagen
(of joy, of feasting,
of weeping and wailing)
and Praying Hands and Durer's Rabbit
shop windows onto the rouch
surface of an uneasy past.
She did not know of trials,
of judgments, of Goering
and Bormann when she sat
on the bench at her father's workplace
inside the Justiz-palace.
Now pigeons and sparrows
share the lofty site
of roof, of rigid lines
Thou shall not kill.
That night at sundown
her father lit the Sabbath candles.
I sang Brahm's lullaby:
Guten Abend, gute Nacht.
and we looked forward
to the next day, the Chriskindelmarkt:
Marzipan and Stollen and Gingerbread.
At the stroke of six
we watched the figurines
on the clock tower
do their ancient dance
-- Angelika Quirk