Clade song 3 Banner
Clade Song 3 Left

Clade Song 3

Mr. Small and the Changing Seasons

Keep your head down—flying objects,
deserved calumnies or not.  The whole shebang
goes, shock waves traveling up to shatter
the glass everything was made of
so the blow is from the bottom: it breaks
from the top.  We read to Noah over and over again
Mr. Small’s Little Auto, how he treats it with such care
pumping up five gallons of gas, the numbers turning
click-click, glug-glug, we add the sound effects, think
of the sticker shock Mr. Small would have 70 years later, think
what was a stop-go sign, and did policemen really
have to carry it with them?  that’s where we can hide
our heads, in the past, when flying out of it come the mistakes
we still haven’t learned from, haven’t somehow felt propelled
enough to reduce our reliance on the little autos we learned to love,
going chug chug backwards down the driveway, vroom vroom
on the seat cushions or the tabletops.  Will he have a world
like this one?  Are we driving full tilt into a wall?  Where
are the policemen carrying their stop-go signs, telling us when to stop?

We go outside; the boy climbs onto his scooter & I push
saying be careful, hold on.  He climbs off, pushes the scooter
across the snow, finds a puddle and tests it—thin ice.  He inquires
and I tell him, yes it’s ice over the puddle, already
he’s cracking it because it’s melting, it’s mid-March, it’s spring, and he
stomps in the puddle splashing mud about and I think
“mud-luscious”—back then was Just-spring later? Have we
warmed up?  hard to believe with heaps of snow covering
all but the edges of the lawns.  Snow melts to water, water freezes
to ice, I slip on it, it melts back to water: reversible change, even to my bruises.
Welcome cycles, the double helix, the coming spring: now raise
your head, look—the trees blossom, the mercury in the glass climbs.

While being grateful

Clade Song 3 right

Janet Bowdan’s poems have appeared in APR, Denver Quarterly, Smartish Pace, Tinfish, Free State Review, Poetry Daily, Best American Poetry 2000 and others.  She edits Common Ground Review ( and teaches English at Western New England University. She lives in Northampton with her husband, son and (sometimes) stepdaughters.