Mud time arrives in the Berkshires like a bout of anxiety. The clearly defined whites and blacks of winter give way to a queasy beige. There are downed branches everywhere, hummocks of gravel spewed up by the snowplow. Everything seems slightly off kilter in
the unforgiving light that lingers too long into the afternoon. The frozen dirt road with its well-defined runnels turns overnight into a quagmire — more dangerous than ice. One road over from us a car sank to its bumpers in the muck. It’s impossible to imagine that the world was ever green — or will be again. And then the first of the chives, thin as cat whiskers, push through the dried mat of last year’s bounty.
by Tess Taylor
We unstave the winter’s tangle.
Sad tomatoes, sullen sky.
We unplay the summer’s blight.
Rotted on the vine, black fruit
swings free of strings that bound it.
In the compost, ghost melon; in the fields
grotesque extruded peppers.
We prod half-thawed mucky things.
In the sky, starlings eddying.
Tomorrow, snow again, old silence.
Today, the creaking icy puller.
Last night I woke
to wild unfrozen prattle.
Rain on the roof—a foreign liquid tongue.