Susan Blackwell Ramsey

Differentiation, or To Quarterbacks Tan and Taupe Seem Just the Same


We feel cheated. April didn’t read the contract.
     Snow caps the daffodils. Where is our spring?
Twelve months, four seasons — don’t we get four months
     of lambs and puffy clouds and bunnies, warm
breezes, blooming trees and pale green leaves?

When a child steps past the particular
     and starts to see things linked in constellations —
not just Spot, but Dog, then Animal —
     her world grows wider. Like a bag, a basket,
a concept make small things easier to tote.

But sometimes if we build too big a box
     that word becomes One Size Fits All, a label
we’ve all learned is a lie. Love, for example.
     A raccoon and a Komodo dragon
staring in their drinks and miserable
     because they can’t be peacock for each other.

That’s one problem. My back yard is another.
     By Spring we mean a quarter year of bloom,
same problem we have with Fall — it goes too fast.
     We say four seasons when it’s really two:
hot and cold split by two quick transitions.

It can help to look through different lenses —
     “This one?” Click. “Or this?” — to make things clear.
The Chinese recognized twenty four Seasonals,
     from Waking of Insects, Lesser Fullness of Grain,
to White Dew. More than one template may fit.

If only we could samba between Concept
     and the smell of his temples, between Ideal and fur
on her upper lip. Japanese had just one word
     to contain the blue/green range, but had midori
to denote the tender green of springtime grass.

Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s book A Mind Like This won the Prairie Schooner Poetry Book Prize. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.