April is on the Way

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

April is on the way!
I saw the scarlet flash of a blackbird’s wing
As he sang in the cold, brown February trees;
And children said that they caught a glimpse of the sky on a bird’s wing
from the far South.
(Dear God, was that a stark figure outstretched in the bare branches
Etched brown against the amethyst sky?

April is on the way!
The ice crashed in the brown mud-pool under my tread,
The warning earth clutched my bloody feet with great fecund fingers,
I aw a boy rolling a hoop up the road,
His little bare hands were red with cold,
But his brown hair blew backward in the southwest wind.
(Dear God! He screamed when he say my awful woe-spent eyes.)

April is on the way!
I met a women in the lane;
Her burden was heavy as it is always, but today her step was light,
And a smile drenched the tired look away from her eyes.
(Dear God, she had dreams of vengeance for her slain mate,
Perhaps, the west wind has blown the mist of hate from her heart,
The dead man was cruel to her, you know that, God.)

April is on the way!
My feet spurn the ground now, instead of dragging on the bitter road.
I laugh in my throat as I see the grass greening beside the patches of snow
(Dear God, those were wild fears. Can there be hate when the Southwest
wind is blowing?)

April is on the way!
The crisp brown hedges stir with the bustle of bird wings.
There is business of building, and songs from brown thrush throats
As the bird-carpenters make homes against Valentine Day.
(Dear God, could they build me a shelter in the hedge from the icy winds that
will come with the dark?)

April is on the way!
I sped through the town this morning. The florist shops have put yellow flowers
in the windows,
Daffodils and tulips and primroses, pale yellow flowers
Like the tips of her fingers when she waved me that frightened farewell.
And the women in the market have stuck pussy willows in long necked bottles
on their stands.
(Willow trees are kind, Dear God. They will not bear a body on their limbs.)

April is on the way!
The soul within me cried that all the husk of indifference to sorrow was but the crust
of ice with which winter disguises life:
It will melt, and reality will burgeon forth like the crocuses in the glen.
(Dear God! Those thoughts were from long ago. When we read poetry after the
day’s toil and got religion together at the revival meeting.)

April is on the way!
The infinite miracle of unfolding life in the brown February fields.
(Dear God, the hounds are baying!)
Murder and wasted love, lust and weariness, deceit and vainglory–what are they
but the spent breath of the runner?
(God, you know he laid hairy red hands on the golden loveliness of her little
daffodil body)
Hate may destroy me, but from my brown limbs will bloom the golden buds with
which we once spelled love.
(Dear God! How their light eyes glow into black pin points of hate!)

April is on the way!
Wars are made in April, and they sing at Easter time of the Resurrection.
Therefore I laugh in their faces.
(Dear God, give her strength to join me before her golden petals are fouled in the slime!)
April is on the way!

Last updated October 13, 2022