Spring and All, Revisited

—after William Carlos Williams

–Richard M. Berlin

By the road home from the general hospital
under the surge of the pink
towering clouds drifted from the
southwest—a warm wind. Beyond, the
edge of a mountain pond, redwings
on bulrush calling out their claims,
circle of black water
the veil of thin ice, receding
All along the road, the same reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding twiggy
stuff of bushes you saw years ago
Damp and buzzing, spirited
spring awakens—
Pickerel feed in the shallows,
skunk cabbage on the shore emerges
brownish-purple and mottled-green,
shell-like and hot
around the knob of tiny flowers,
above them, a great blue
heron, alert, waiting
And I think of you, Doc Williams
stopping by the road to the contagious
hospital that morning, standing in a
cold Jersey wind
before the rush of nurses in starched
uniforms and white-winged
caps, your patients with diseases
I’ll never see, like the ferocious
little girl with diphtheria in “The Use of Force”
Right now I’m a hundred and fifty
miles from the waste of your broad
muddy fields, the end
of a day with dementia and AIDS,
headed home to redefine
the objects in my world—
raw knuckles of red
rhubarb breaking the earth’s clay crust,
sawed-off apple limbs expecting fire,
sticky-swollen horse chestnut buds,
tips sharpened to stingers aimed at the sky,
all around, the grass a rumor of green.

Dr. Berlin, a psychiatrist in western Massachusetts, is a wonderful poet. He is a careful observer of nature and life, as was Dr. William Carlos Williams who Dr. Berlin paraphrases here.

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