April 20, 2010
A Poem From Edward Byrne

Edward Byrne is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently, Seeded Light (Turning Point Books, 2010). A seventh book, Tinted Distances, will be released in 2011. He is a professor in the English Department at Valparaiso University, where he edits Valparaiso Poetry Review.

This is a poem with an Indiana location and it concerns the transition of seasons from winter to spring, offering a hopeful sign for the future in the form of a bird house while looking back at the contributions and lessons learned from the past, from the father in the poem.


Fingers stiffening in frigid cold, I plane
                odd planks of knotted pine, creating

some tapered shapes from loose pieces
                of rough lumber, scraps I had plucked

from under that spare junk pile I knew
                I would find behind my father’s shed. 

After hand cutting a few short boards
                into a floor and steeply pitched roof,

plus four fitted side walls, I sand them,
                going over the finer lines of grain again

and again, rounding off all uneven edges.
                Before long the wood looks as smooth 

as new sand dunes, sudden mounds
                scooped out of the summer shoreline

and lifted by ocean gusts, or those
                white winter drifts so often found 

only one month from spring still
                running the length of level fence posts 

around a wind-blown meadow filled
                with snow, now powdering evergreen 

pine needles, driven along the ground
                around the wet-black trunks of oaks,

their branches yet bare and the upper
                limbs temporarily empty of birdsong.

The Indiana Humanities Council is posting poems on Think.Read.Talk. by Hoosier poets in celebration of National Poetry Month. Other Indiana celebrations include poetry readings at the Artsgarden (above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, Indianapolis), performed each Monday at 12:15 p.m. For a schedule of events, click here.

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