On the first warm day in March

Anita Skeen

Anita Skeen

On the First Warm Day in March was accepted as part of the MSU Library Short Edition call for work on the theme of “recovery,” in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibit of Beverly Fishman's art, also called Recovery. Anita Skeen is currently Professor Emerita in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University where she was the Founding Director of The RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU and is the Series Editor for Wheelbarrow Books. She has been the Coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at Ghost Ranch for 41 years, and the Fall Writing Festival for 23 years. She is the author of six volumes of poetry: Each Hand A Map (1986); Portraits (1990); Outside the Fold, Outside the Frame (1999); The Resurrection of the Animals (2002); Never the Whole Story (2011); When We Say Shelter (2007), with Oklahoma poet Jane Taylor; and The Unauthorized Audubon (2014), a collection of poems about imaginary birds accompanied by the linocuts of anthropologist/visual artist Laura B. DeLind. With Taylor, she co-edited the literary anthology Once Upon A Place: Writings from Ghost Ranch (2008). Her poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Collaboration is an important aspect of her work and she currently involved in writing projects with poets Jane Taylor and Cindy Hunter Morgan, and visual artist Laura DeLind.

after a trudge on the icy path
through the sun-splashed woods,
we sit on the front stoop,
hatless and gloveless, drinking
glasses of cinnamon tea.
As we walked, we talked
how we both were blindsided
this past week by colleagues
with agendas obvious and
secretive at the same time,
that we are part of a puzzle
with missing pieces tucked in
a pocket or slipped to the dog,
but not by us, leaving the jay
with no wings, the cottage
roofless on one side.

Snow melts on the driveway.
A chipmunk dashes in front of us,
startled, forgetting that humans
come out in the sun. Friends
who see each other mostly
on Zoom, we are vaccinated,
boosted, and finally, maskless.
We can feel our new lives,
not just the restored old ones,
taking shape as we tell how
we will go forward now, aware
of the terrors in Ukraine, the loss
that is always possible, perhaps
just days away. But today, here
we are, together, making a plan.

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