Jane McKinley: “The End of March”




Like matriarchs who can’t imagine anyone
replacing them, dried beech leaves cling
to branches, unperturbed by copper spears
emerging from the tip of every twig.
The light is changing hourly, and green
appears like a mirage, as if the thirst
for color could be quenched, as if the wind
could blow without that hollow sound, or
mottled blades of trout lilies could stay
tucked in the ground. The wild procession
has begun. Skunk cabbages will dot the marsh,
their garish leaves unsullied by the mud.
That flicker won’t stop pecking, carving out
a dying oak to make room for his young.



Jane McKinley is a Baroque oboist and artistic director of the Dryden Ensemble, a professional chamber music group based in Princeton, New Jersey. Her poetry collection, Vanitas, won the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize and was published by Texas Tech University Press. Her work appears in Georgia Review, Five Points, Poetry Daily, Great River Review, and Tar River Poetry.

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