Poetry Classroom: April Poem

Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet Daniel Bowman, author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Dan and each other, and write your own poems along the way.

April Poem

Every year about this time
I bury my mother’s bones.
And in May
they spring up as lilacs
and in June they float softly

on the Irondequoit Creek
and in July they march down
Columbia Street
and end with smoke.
In August they become

Poison Ivy creeping
along the trail where I walk
with my daughter.
Soon they’ll be hidden
under dead leaves and snow.

The thaw will have its say
again next year
and I’ll reach for the shovel,
happy for moonlight
and a grasshopper’s song.

Photo by gmeaders_ch, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Poem by Daniel Bowman.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the theme Swans, Swallows, Phoenix.

Every Day Poems Driftwood


    • says

      Thank you, Maureen! And please forgive my late response. I love being a part of this but took on more than I could handle at the end of the semester. Thanks again for your comments here.

  1. Marcy Terwilliger says

    Wow, how touching, I read it over and over again. Love the way she was remembered every month of the year. It’s a simple poem with a mouthful of memories and meaning.

    • says

      Marcy, thank you so much. I think in a way that this poem is a microcosm of the book. The book is split into four sections for the four seasons, and in this poem, the remembrances are also cyclical and deeply connected to season and place.

  2. says

    I love the thread through seasons of grieving, living, and where you go with memory. It is fascinating how there are triggers for love and grief and remembering all around. We all walk around these gentle “landmines” of recalling. This is beautiful.

    • says

      Thank you, Elizabeth–I love your phrase “there are triggers for love and grief and remembering all around.” That might be the best description of why I was so drawn to write about my old home place.

      I remember someone coming up to me after a reading in Chicago, saying, “Now I really want to go to this place you write about!” And I appreciate that sentiment very much, but I also know that it’s not about the place alone–it’s more about the psychological spaces represented by the places and people of my home.

      So true that “we all walk around these gentle ‘landmines’ of recalling!” In Mary Oliver’s poem “Ghosts,” we get the question “Have you noticed?” not once but four times, and always in italics. I think of that as her poetics of seeing. We all walk around the gentle landmines indeed, but it is the poet who must notice them in their particulars and work through an exploration and articulation–for ourselves and our readers, if we’re fortunate enough to have some readers.

      Thanks again for your wonderful insights.

    • says

      Thank you Monica for that response–it is so interesting how beauty comes to your mind in the same space of something like dependability. Though we see many cultural images of beauty being something that comes from out there, something unusual that may or may not come into our lives, there is in fact great beauty in that which we can call dependable. It’s a really complicated relationship!

  3. L. L. Barkat says

    Now I am wanting to see someone illustrate this poem. And all the things will have bones. The lilacs, the bone-sticks on the creek, the poison ivy.

    Also realizing that you and I are (were) from the same region (I used to live near Herkimer and Mohawk talk is all through the valley and the mountains).

  4. Sarina Oleson says

    This poem was so creative yet a tiny bit creepy at the same time. I really enjoyed reading it because it evoked so much feeling and also some sadness within me. On a morbid side note, it made me think about what I would do with my parents if they suddenly passed away. Its really sad to think about, but it is so interesting that such a sad activity can be shared in such poetic language and with such creative detail. I also liked thinking about the contrast of the bones (dead) with all of the living things that they were shared with like the ivy and lilacs.

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