Trout lilies. That’s how you know
the time of year. Down by the river,
stomachache. Pain as pollutant.
You saw it kill your father. Your father,
so much smaller than a river.
As a child you imagined yourself
a true animal. You dug for onions,
you dug for grubs. Swallowed whole
summers in your father’s garden.
Runoff from the mills turned the water
the most beautiful blue. You splashed
and you drank. The dye stained your skin.
Daddy, you told him, I wish I had been born
blue. That made him laugh.
There was time spent in the hospital
after that. A few weeks. There was so much
blue to get out of you. Yellow pills
and one red pill. No blue pills.
Every night the nurse whispered to you,
you’re going to die. She had you convinced.
Every morning you vomited from the sheer
surprise of being alive. It was trout lilies. It was
the third week of April.
A Surprise Visit
the spring thaw
sap dripping from the taps
the loudness of syrup boiling
kitchen steamy sweet
lightheaded gasps for air
the first jar I saved
the first jar I walked down the road
like one of the three wise men—I thought--
intent on delivering such a gift
I missed my father
not by much
the coals still hot
in his woodstove
Jamie Samdahl is a poet and naturalist from Princeton, Massachusetts. She has been published in Washington Square Review, Mandala Journal, Mountain Record: The Zen Practitioner’s Journal, Canopic Jar, and elsewhere. In the spring of 2013, she was named winner of the 90th Annual Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Prize.