(Our open bedroom window this morning)
After we mowed on Saturday, for some reason, the sweet fragrance of the cut grass was particularly intense, so that smelling the combined essence of freshly-cut grass and honeysuckle blossoms coming through the bedroom window was very nearly a spiritual experience.
I’ve always loved the smell of new-cut grass. In fact, when I was nineteen or twenty (the age of my children now), I wrote a poem about it: Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season. It actually got published in a literary magazine, and the editors were kind enough to write a little note to me. I can’t remember all the words of their note exactly, but I do recall the last line :
“Wonderful descriptive images with lively metaphors…but the pun was intrusive.”
Hee, hee…that makes me laugh every time I remember it because it wasn’t the first (or the last) time I heard that criticism. And of course they were probably right. I’m pretty sure that none of the poets we now consider great included “intrusive” puns in their poems. But I find it so very difficult to resist wanton wordplay. After all, for me, writing poetry is about the sheer delight of playing with language, and there’s nothing I find more amusing than a good (or bad) pun.
So, even though we’re a bit past the first lawn mowing of the season, I thought I’d share the poem I wrote about it over thirty years ago, complete with flagrant pun. Can you find it? Maybe those editors didn’t appreciate my wordplay, but I hope that you do. And, of course, I hope you like my poem, too. :-)
Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season
Winter-sealed windows muffle morning
And the sunshine serenade
Of silver blades on green.
Lone droning melody—long over dew.
Rasping open, the window inhales, gasping
As life and light rush through.
Draperies flutter like pale cobwebs
Swept aside in spring cleaning.
Green air filters through the screen
Almost strained of winter’s ghosts.
Air greening! Bare greening!
Sun and rain in warm light showers
Combine—a pure and golden wine.
Pale embryos too long confined
Beneath the earth begin to stir.
Something in me moves
Planted in heart grooves
In springs before cold dormant seasons.
They stir once more and feed
On pulsing blood.
New rivers running in a flood
Through a singing heart.