One January I saw the Spring outside with a pickaxe in her hand

One January, I saw the Spring outside, with a pickaxe in her hand.

She stood there in her Boticelli gown
Industrial gloves pulled on
Hands on hips
Long handled axe hung down at side

And she surveyed the scene
With piercing eye.

“Those trunks need scrubbing;
And the frost from every bough
And leaf must be scraped off..

No slacking now!

We’ve every tree and surface
On a planetary hemisphere to clear
And only 2 months left.

I’ll start to hew the glaciers in the north
But the garden ponds are yours.

The lakes and rivers we will do in ranks.
God knows if we will ever get the thanks
That we deserve,

But just think!

What would happen if this great work
Were not done by us?”

But, as the frosty air with which she spoke
Curled up to freeze her nose,

High Summer,
overhearing, far above
in a work of unearned grace

And in an act of kindness
Placed her warm hand on Spring’s heart.

The frost,
in melted handshape
On her tender muslin dress
Was wet, as if with tears.

The pickaxe, slipping from her hand,
Fell clanging on the ground

She sighed a long breath
in the ringing air

And turning to invisible Summer,
Felt the loving warmth
Upon her brow.

Gloves off,
She wiped new moisture from her skin

And tenderly
She let
The Spring-time in.

© Sarah de Nordwall
Thursday June 23rd 2005


  1. I love Spring – the Boticelli gown and she really, really needs a non-nonsense Northern accent…

    "in melted handshape" – beautiful. I actually read it as "handscape" the first time round…

    Keep it up, Sarah!


  2. I love "handscape" Nice! Thanks Dominic. The interaction with other views is truly half the joy of writing.

    I am about to send this poem to a friend who is writing about conflicting views of Grace and Works. For me issues return to the lived experience of your own heart.. when grace changes the nature and experience of those works. That can be a long journey, even for those with supposedly the "right ideas"!

    Thanks for your beautiful comments. It helps the garden grow..

  3. I can often carry a cold, uninviting exterior and when people dare to get closer and find the real me, they find the warmth of summer underneath.

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