Mid February days of shifting temperatures,
whisper Spring, though no visible sign
is observable in the landscape, just the same
flattened, wet, overwintered vegetation.
The air smells differently
and the birds sing differently,
underground the earth is a mass of energy
pushing upward, tips of green shoots
move the crusted soil
The following days are unusually mild,
with substantial heat from the sunshine
bringing new observations:
a small tortoiseshell,
brilliant yellow of a single lesser celandine
nestling into the warmed stone of a sea cliff ruin,
star-shaped tips of just-emerged bluebell bulbs
and the scent of wild garlic leaves.
Then one morning –
a sublime light,
scanning low under trees
fanning out in semi-visible lines.
Warm crepuscular rays glint
like giant spiderwebs
broken by crimped horizontals
and split into feathery rainbows.
Deep in gloom behind the well
these sunbeams cause an exposition
illuminate this apparition.
Glittering masses of white opals,
gatherings of alabaster ovals,
with perfect still-closed buds,
some upward pointing
fresh-emerged and reaching still,
others taller and just-relaxed
petal edges white-lit and crystalline
lanterns hung under spiky spathes
glowing droplets stretching down
from waxy green capsules.
Between the ferns, new
clumps form in mossy ground
their glaucous leaves emerge
in bluish contrast
to the golden-green backdrop
pushing through twigs, bramble,
and last year’s leaf litter.
Sudden snowy storms obliterate the sun
in cloudy masses
flakes drop slowly, lightly,
swirling in semi-suspension
creating sifted powder,
dry and squeaky underfoot.
Days go by without melt
and the East storm arrives,
bitter cold and freezing the earth
wind-thrown snowdust moves
in eerie, semi-opaque murmurations
flowing across the land and
catching the snowdrops
in an icy wilted mass,
bending them towards the earth
their perfection trapped and distorted
through clear sheets of frost.
wildlife moves closer,
birds and voles scrabble in the snow for hidden seed
by night the moon reveals badgers searching for scraps.
Young deer collect under the hemlock tree,
jumping for needle tips just out of reach.
And just as quickly as it came,
the storm recedes, and all is calm.
As the thaw spreads, the flowers revive,
their petals, stems, surely bruised,
protected by homemade antifreeze
hold pristine and upright again.
Shape-shifting in sunlight’s warmth
buds begin to part and open,
splitting in trinity.
delicate and bell-shaped
raising slightly upward
of tubular inner petals
edged with green-lined markings
like french striped linen.
Weeks pass, stems lengthen and yellow,
lifting buds high above their leaves
in diffuse light the flowers
appear waxy and dull
yet still intensely luminous
like vellum held to the light.
An expanse of snowdrops
in the orchard clearing,
turn together towards the sun,
lifting up their petals
like a cloud of moths
preparing for flight
revealing patterned hindwings.
After the day’s warmth and wilt,
Half-slid water drops
resting at angles,
sit like glassy beetles
in the fading light,
and as fragile cells revive
heads nod and descend
with the dewfall.