Catherine Campbell

when spring arrives


i must rip the curly tail wild garlic out of the earth and throw it in my mouth, mica, red clay and all. Or a pasture onion: go to the corner of the field that holds the most pain for you and rediscover the green top, bulbous, shoving itself through the earth to your fingers. A good bite begs to be coupled with dandelions over there. Hurry before winter turns a hat trick. You won't step around the mustards this time, clumped together like little teenage hearts. Crush a few in your palm and wash yourself free of snow, pine sap, holly scars. They say spring is gentle, taking cobwebs from the porch eaves the way a child takes cotton candy between her teeth the first time. Look closer: rope tugged along the red horizon at dawn, just under the mist, and a fist fight. It's the thrust of hands toward bread loaves before the priest can finish saying amen, as sure as my warning to my son that someday he, too, will slice his finger on ribwort, howl and stare, wondering how something so small can move our blood so quickly.


Catherine Campbell is a Pushcart nominee whose fiction and essays appear in The New York Times, Arcadia, Atticus Review, [PANK], Drunken Boat, Ploughshares online, and elsewhere. She teaches in the Master of Arts Writing Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University and lives in Asheville, NC.