Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. Author of five volumes of poetry, Patricia’s latest book is The Canopy and her newest chapbook is Deadlifts, out from New Michigan Press. Patricia has had two residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan; she teaches in Michigan at Grand Valley State University.


After the Darkest Year

Out of verdant and lush,
oak leaf, Virginia creeper vine,
blackberry wild as today’s wind,
sumac, invasive honeysuckle,
each different leaf a knuckle, earlobe, or palm
of the hand,

in thirty days no less, from dormant
to swaying, leaves shivering and trembling,
one side grayer, one side slick,
shiny on top,

and what gets through of sunlight
dappled and shade-crazed,
sunburst down to a single blade
standing tall on ravine-floor,
leaf-pile, leaf mold, crackle
of still dried stalk and spent
blossom trundled from the yard,

an ancient process, green
to done, down, trampled on, spent,
left here to vegetate, pack deep
under snow, decompose,
and then all starts again,

warbler time just after dormancy breaks,
bud swell and pencil point unfurling
of green, each blossom and ear leaf
sparking in its time—trillium, may-
apple, redbud, lilac, more—
and the welcome scents
lively on the air, fresh and new
as any flower, note of honey,
jasmine, vanilla, lemon, bark,

till all is filled, unfurled, spread wide
and out—umbrella canopy, wand of
Solomon’s seal with berries white,
dangling, ripe—and whose mouth
will surround, pull them off to eat?

So sudden you could blink, miss it, lose
sight of dame’s rocket imagining it
phlox when it’s not, lavender, white,
and pink covering a slope, a hill,
an elevated bank by the creek
or by the busy road usually all dun
and trash, dirt, dust, but now
a gorgeous swell, in bloom, so brief.

Ode to Sleet

When you came from
sky, from the north,
you sang your own
tune, sleet, of
rapid ticking, a faint
knocking, mostly
as warning: the steps
outside will now
be slippery, hold
onto the railing.

No surprise, then,
your pellet whiteness
makes me think
of mortality, of bone.

All week we were
alerted, and yes,
we hunkered down—
bought extra butter,
wine, eggs golden
in their cartons,
gas for the car,
candles in case
electricity went out.

This morning first
was rain, slanted,
damp, leaving dashes
across windows,
wet marks on
my boots and arms
of my jacket.
The temperature fell,
though, and you
waited in the wings,
sleet, to tick and
slash, to make a
music of ticking,
ceasing, ticking

Because I had
my mini-microscope
I scooped some
of you up on a blue
postcard of a horse—
laid it down
on my table,
applied the light
and the lens.
Voila! You were
ice, globules, many-
sided crystals,
hanging together
in a mass
unsolitary, much
like frogs’ eggs
floating in a

It’s too much to say
new appreciation,
no, I’ve seen your
cold ilk before,
yet I had a
flash in your
diamond shapes
of the promise
water, even frozen,
out of the sky
may bring—
some ease,
some softening
of all that’s
been hard. Knock
away, rap,
tap, tilt and
slap against glass, your
form is already
becoming liquid
running into
dirt, stone,
making buds
and leaves perk
up and come, ever
so northerly