Middle April

The Chinese goose is talking in her sleep, walking the ducks.
Herding them to and fro, their protests muffled by the shallow
breath of fatigue.
Her vocal dissatisfaction, constant.
She has no mate.
The moon is full.

Abed, listening, I recall last Winter.
November through February, the long season, the slow
re-reading of the works of George Eliot.
Her land: farms, estates, affections in the dependent clause.
Silas, Adam, Dorothea, Daniel.
A liturgy of violence repressed.

At last it is April on our farm.
The apple budwood has leafed, the pears are in bloom.
Brushed greenings on the fir seedlings.
The first curled sprouts from vegetable pods and flower seeds.
Their leaves grub white as they just appear through the black earth,
the push of life.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Middle April”?

I have always found inspiration from both the natural and literary world. I am an avid reader and sometimes the world of the imagination seems as real (if not more real) than the daily mundane world. “Middle April” was inspired by my reading of the works of George Eliot as well as life on our farm. Violence takes many forms and I realized that the sounds and growth on the farm related to the relationship tensions in the novels I had been reading. It is those kinds of connections that makes writing poetry so wonderful.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Middle April”?

“Middle April” is free verse. But no verse is really free. In fact, I often recommend that young poets write form poetry. (A very useful book is Handbooks of Poetic Forms by Ron Padgett.) It can be easier to have guidelines. Leonardo di Vinci said “within limitation lies creativity.” Sometimes having to deal with a set of rules allows a poet freedom. In this poem, I was trying to make the sound fit the feeling. In the first stanza, I wanted the goose to represented with short lines—that pacing back and forth. In the second stanza, I wanted the reader to get a sense of the complexity of George Eliot’s writing with longer lines.

This poem “Middle April” originally appeared in Shaping Texts. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 119 (Winter 1988): 24.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.