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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 25, 2016
About this Poem 

“A few years back I had the chance to move out of Brooklyn and live in Amy Clampitt’s former home in the Berkshires for a full year. We moved in January, and the snow and the freeze were thick. One of the great surprises of getting to live in a rural area and watch its minute changes was the sheer noisy force of spring. The intense cracking and water noises during the first thaws, and the actually unsettlingly loud clatter of the first rain—all of this reminded me that spring has another deep meaning of ‘gush’ or ‘flow.’ By the time this poem was written, I was also working on a nearby farm a few days a week. I hope that the poem, and the book, actually, get at the bodily pleasure, but also the strangeness, of being so close to both the season and the work.”
—Tess Taylor

Mud Season

We unstave the winter’s tangle.
Sad tomatoes, sullen sky.

We unplay the summer’s blight.
Rotted on the vine, black fruit

swings free of strings that bound it.
In the compost, ghost melon; in the fields

grotesque extruded peppers.
We prod half-thawed mucky things. 

In the sky, starlings eddying.
Tomorrow, snow again, old silence.

Today, the creaking icy puller.
Last night I woke

to wild unfrozen prattle.
Rain on the roof—a foreign liquid tongue.

Copyright © 2016 Tess Taylor. Used with permission of the author. 

Copyright © 2016 Tess Taylor. Used with permission of the author. 

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the author of Work & Days (Red Hen Press, 2016) and The Forage House (Red Hen Press, 2013).

by this poet


My parents kissing in a kitchen.
In her loop-eyed dress my mother—

enormous in her belly, I loom.
In a commune in Fort Greene

she typed and typed her dissertation.
Upstairs a woman practiced primal screams,

a wild-haired painter mourned his dying wife.
My parents


   Albemarle County

The ridge a half mile down from Monticello.
A pit cut deeper than the plow line.
Archaeologists plot the dig by scanning

plantation land mapped field
for carbon, ash, traces of human dwelling.
We stand


How again today our patron star
whose ancient vista is the long view

turns its wide brightness now and here:
Below, we loll outdoors, sing & make fire.

We build no henge
but after our swim, linger

by the pond. Dapples flicker
pine trunks by the water.

Buzz & hum