Make a Glad Noise; It is Spring; Couples, Green With Envy; Cut Back; On a Farm


I want my poems to make her sing. I want my

poems to make her toll the bells of her baby’s

toes, glad they are still there. I want my poems

to make her dream, of the mysteries of life

because there are so many: the birds that sing

in this theatre in the round, one sparrow in

each window. Make a glad noise; it is

spring. Up from the snow the crocus has

sprung, fresh from its rubbery root; it

bends back its head and opens its mouth

to hallelujah sing. High above, in pyramids

of love, the sparrows also are singing;

in the black tree branches, down the

clean spring trenches, the blackbirds

and crow toes are singing. For bright

new beginnings, from the plenums of their

pews, the bluebirds and jackdaws are

singing. Make a glad noise; it is spring.

The squirrel that fled the diving hawk has

landed safe on the bending branch. His

tail is high and arched; making a good,

stiff brush for spring cleaning. Make a glad

noise; it is spring. From the tops of the hills

to the valleys below, the world like a chorus

is singing. The people are pouring from their

winter houses and heading for the high church

steeple. The summoner has summoned, and

the bells have rung and the pilgrims in their

pews are holding each other’s hands.


My eighty-year-old neighbors drive by

in their green Subaru, the woman at

the wheel. She pulls on the blinker and

slows to a stop at my street, readying

to turn in. I see her nose in profile,

and beside her, the back of her husband’s

head, a few grey hairs sticking out, his

glasses clinging to an ancient scarab

of ear and then, abandoned in my own

life by two disappointing men, I am

green with envy. They will die apart,

of course, and be buried in separate graves,

but in this life, they have learned to live

as one: on some days warm and close;

on others separated by occasional clouds,

but ultimately loyal and unbetraying,

like twins in profile staring forward;

driving into, as they ward off, the dark.


Last year the gardener cut the bushes

back too much that used to swing by

my bedroom window. He left them bare,

their branches shorn. All winter long,

those branches bothered me, clattering

unprotected, maddened by nasty

weather. But come spring, how

fiercely they flourished, reconstituting

themselves from gray sticks into

swinging bud rods, with pointed leaves

and lilac-colored flowers and rubbery

collars especially appealing to the butterflies

and to the needle-thin, nectar-sucking

bills of the hummingbirds that beat their

invisible wings at my window now.


Evidence of death is all around me:

roots and rot; animals lying sideways

in their graves; dead leaves clinging to

grass; a mirror decaying (no longer

capable to show the implacable face

of beauty); even the majestic maple,

centerpiece of all that’s beautiful on

this backyard farm, with trunk too

large to wrap my arms around, sheds

bark. Past that tree, where my planet

ends and neighbor’s yard begins, I find

more things to remind me: a tangled

stretch of barbed wire fence where once

an aimless cow rubbed its aching flank

along; a shoehorn shaped like a tongue;

a feather stranded in a crack of rock,

a broken egg beneath a branch (seacoast

blue, pale enough to see the light sky

through); a predatory snake, hiding in

the grass; the eye of a robin, fading fast;

rusty nails that used to hold a barn against

the storm; a bag of garbage buried

in the sand; a rose petal dried to a toy

soldier’s painted shirt; other toys, played

with once by children long since grown

(now with addresses underground); a shoe

heel pulverized by dirt; everything but sun,

wind, rain, and stars ground down by winter

weather. There is nothing novel here,

nothing new; nothing that won’t be

endlessly repeated: the shoe that sinks in

this garden plot has me in it. I’ll be lying

with my predecessors soon; the family

I saw in the Christmas photo, arranged

in a row at the back of the house, each

with turned out bookends for ears and a

separate eggshell for a still-living head;

my future’s here, devolving on this farm,

tunneling dirt with my insect fellows

or in the pretty flowers endlessly growing.

Nor do I object. Almost everything

I have ever loved or painfully lost, even

almost the whole beauty of earth, can

be found here on this farm. I have rolled

them back, dumb and unseeing, the

gems that were my predecessor’s eyes.

When you buy my farm and come, on

this same spot, you may roll back lapis

lazuli stones, and know that they were mine.

Lisa Low’s poetry, reviews, interviews, and academic essays have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, The Boston Review, Crack the Spine, Cross Currents, Delmarva Review, Evening Street Press, The Boston Herald, Phoebe, The Portland Press Herald, Potomac Review, and Aphros Literary Magazine, among others. She is one of the editors of Milton, the Metaphysicals, and Romanticism, published by Cambridge University Press in 1994. She received her doctorate in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and spent twenty years as an English professor, teaching at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa; Colby College in Waterville, Maine; and Pace University in New York City. In addition to her work as an educator, Low was briefly a film and theatre critic for Christian Science Monitor.