In the deep of a Maine winter, spring can feel like a theoretical construct with no basis in reality, but this week’s poem captures the beginning of a relationship just after the snow has melted. The poem’s sentences tumble after each other much like what happens when two people are maybe falling for each other.

Michelle Menting lives in Maine, and her first full collection, “Leaves Surface Like Skin,” was published by Terrapin Books in 2017.

How after Snowmelt

By Michelle Menting

We checked off our likes, our wants,

and have-nots like items in a suitcase,

like things we’d carry to a weekend

with relatives all grown up. We drove

down a two-lane sided by fields, one

once corn now groomed dirt, the other

black from burning. We compared notes

in the abstract: what do you think about

global warming? When you wake to thunder,

do you feel fear, excitement, do you think:

global warming? We repeated ourselves

for comic effect. We laughed at newness:

of spring, of the holding of hands, of simple

robins, and how after snowmelt everything

everywhere smells like excrement.

We turned brave, revealed small truths

about ourselves from observing others

from afar, up close, over years of growing.

I said, The only people who watch

Independence Day parades are eight-

year-old girls and white supremacists.

You said, Those who wear useless accessories—

scarves in warm weather, belts on tight pants,

watches that don’t keep time—were never hugged

as toddlers. For a while, we said nothing.

Our hands rested between seats, between knees,

up on the dash. We kept on driving, wondering

whether we had already gone too far.

Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 Michelle Menting. It appeared originally in The Ampersand Review (Volume IV, 2010), appears in Leaves Surface Like Skin (Terrapin Books, 2017), and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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