Saturday, March 16, 2013

mud season

I laughed out loud just now as I finalized this poem. I started it at around 6:30 this morning, while it was still dark outside. Last I looked (yesterday early evening) Michigan was in that season between winter and spring, when everything is drab, brown, muddy and puddly. When I looked up from my laptop after typing "mudstone" a few minutes ago I saw that it is now light outside, and everything is covered with a fresh layer of white: two inches on the ground, and every twig and bamboo leaf heavy with it. We have had one snowfall after another for a couple of months. But anyway, the mud season will come again soon.

Mud season

When I think
how much
of life is spent
on pavement —
   sidewalks, roads, foundation slabs

I am grateful
for the season of mud
in this field and woods
even as my feet sink
and rise sucking
even when all is drab
no fairy white guise
even when stems
bent and broken
resemble wall-leaning
Bedlam sickness
even when trash
in small blue or red
strips and noblets
reminds me of the sometimes
painful touch of humans
I go ‘round and ‘round
this circled path
boots painted brown with mud
and I parse
out from drabness
cushioned deer beds
of copper needles, green
liverwort mosses knitted
over roots, jade lichen
lacing sumac sleeves,
bronze oak leaves sculpted
into armed Venuses
hanging at eye level,
fallen pine boughs
where hunter green fountains spray
as if to announce there is still water
flowing through this broken branch
its jagged tip
a beautiful sienna
striated in circles
like a miniature butte
in the Grand Canyon
where a river once flowed
its layers
an infinite range
of ochre shades 
of mudstone


  1. Oh, I do like this. Parsing out from drabness. Yes! Let's praise the sucking mud season.

    We had a new snowfall a few days ago, but it thawed quickly, and I think that's the last of it.

    1. Even I am ready for spring, Robert. But the fresh snow is beautiful, and we know it won't last. Thanks, I'm glad you like this poem.

  2. Ha! Lovely words, my dear, but you wouldn't be "praising mud season" if you had a hairy-footed dog traipsing in and out ten times a day. :)

    1. Hehe, no doubt, no doubt, my friend. And this is one reason we do not have a dog, though I praise them too. :-)

  3. the perseverance of life in all its forms)))

    why do i like Bedlam sickness and the painful touch of humans? well, for the same reason i like the mud, as you do, i suppose. it is a clinging honesty. it won't let us look away.

    i pay attention to your language, ruth. in this you are very rich, in the naming. and the strips and noblets of garbage somehow remind me of flags. it is a country, or better yet a culture of truth, you draw our attention to. a rich to the tongue and beautiful read.


    1. Yes! it is a country, thank you. We are all its citizens, but we forget our membership, if we ever knew it at all. Maybe going out into nature is like a visit to the "old country" and we too often feel like tourists. These poems I write are like postcards from a place I know too little. More important than the beauties of Paris or Rome, the truth of nature never ends, nor does my longing for it.

  4. You do this scene justice, Ruth, pacing it, illuminating it, noticing colors and strips of existence as necessary interlopers here and there.


    1. You have such a lovely way of responding, Rosaria. Thank you.

  5. This is wonderful, Ruth. I love reading your poetry.

  6. My lasting and last memory of the 'mud season' took place in Vermont -- a few years ago now. I was visiting my sister and we were on our way out and I managed to slip on the slick slippery wooden steps just outside her mudroom. Kerplop! Coat, boots, jeans, hands and hair -- poetry just didn't come into it!;-)But everybody had a good laugh -- even I. It did serve one very useful purpose -- the installation of a handrail, which was very necessary for the safety of elderly parents who were planning to visit...

    1. Oh to think of what might have happened, to you or to one of the elderly parents. I have nearly fallen many times in the mud on this property.

  7. the pulse of this marvelous poem flows through the verb "parse," as it doubles its minute attention -- to gather the particulars of the natural world, the sensuousness of mud and mudcolors and pine and moss -- and again to touch the fine details of language in the mouth, to sink and rise sucking through strips and noblets to cushioned deer beds and "an infinite range / of ochre shades / of mudstone" ...

    i love the ending, especially, this leaning and turn on the small observation that expands into distance and time, as if opening vastly inside the speaking self ....


    1. James, you lift up this little poem with such care and honor. I always feel my poems are better in your eyes and heart. Abundant thanks for reading, and for being you.

  8. Exquisite poem, Ruth-- so rich and sure...xxxj

    1. Thank you for embracing the richness of mud with me, Jenne'.

  9. Those who are so richly knee deep in mud, are the lucky ones.

    1. "Sapphires and garlic" are in that mud, eh, Liz?

  10. Snow or mud? Yes, with the proper pair of boots, mud, I think. This hasn't been a hard winter but it feels like an endless one and the mud will be so welcome, I think. So long as it doesn't stay interminably!

    1. Hello, Jeanie! Endless, and more to come today! It's immeasurably better than last March with its heat and early blossoms that succumbed to the hard frost. Spring will come.

  11. You do make mud season sound so much nicer than it seems at times. It is good to stop and think about the good points of this time of year that I find such a tease. Tonight we are to expect some snow and I will admit that I have had my fill of it for this year.

    1. I think it's hard to wait through all sorts of transitions that seem dull and a nuisance. But all of it is fleeting, and when the tulips come up, they will quickly pass. The moss is always there!

  12. I thought not of the "garlic and sapphires", but of mid-winter spring, it's own and too-oft ignored season. Mud's never simply a transition to something else, something prettier and more desirable. It's the necessary precursor, the affirmation that earth and water must combine for life to re-emerge.

    It's a beautiful poem.

    1. Your point is excellent, Linda. The mud season is absolutely necessary. It's a brilliant lesson.

      Many thanks.


All responses are welcome.