Cartography of the Seasons

by Eleanor Swanson

I. Winter

My mind is amorphous,

refusing, like a cloud,

to retain its form.

My mind is a rabbit hopping

from one plant to another,

stretching languidly until

it is a white snake refusing

to stay still, to be caught.

That is the winter mind,

informed by cold, crystal

pinpoints in the frigid air.


II. Spring

The spring mind, like

spring itself grows

and sometimes flowers,

scenting the air.

Clusters of flowers

inhabit my mind.

My mind is amorphous,

yet resilient at the same time:

resilient to contradiction,

to contradictory impulses.

If you could hold my mind

like a clump of fresh-

turned earth and bring it

close to your nose,

it would have a distinct

aroma, but not at all

like those first clusters

of flowers.  The scent

of my spring mind is of

warmth, surprise,

of overturned darkness.


III. Summer

Heat radiates through

the summer mind.

The summer mind eyes

clouds, abundant

cumulus clouds

with shimmering contours.

Ah, the summer mind

expands with sunlight

and warm, brisk wind.

The summer mind knows

the preciousness of long

languid days and the burgeoning

garden, colors exquisite

at high noon: shining

purple eggplant, jalapeno

peppers and serranos and

Thai peppers unstoppable

fill the summer mind

with a gaudy, explosive collage.

The summer mind must be

cautious, protective, remembering

that “ripeness is all,” and

that over-ripeness is never

a gift.


IV. Autumn

Oh, the mind says, your

love of October light

is a cliché.  Don’t you

know that?  You want

to talk back to the know-

it-all autumn mind.

Its exactitude and pomposity

can be hurtful.  Yet,

the summer mind can

take you through the rows

of still-abundant—

for just a while longer—

strawberries and raspberries,

treating your explorations

with attentive kindness.

The autumn mind tries

to prepare you for tendrils

of frost and snowy roads, and

for the time that “seasons

of mists and mellow

fruitfulness” will be over.

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