In this week’s poem, Sharif Elmusa’s “Parallel to the Season,” we find a paean to spring and to how it paces our steps and perceptions. I love this poem’s imaginative, fanciful eye for the actors of spring, and how it conveys the energy and even the strangeness of this transitional time.

Elmusa is a scholar, poet and professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo. In addition to his academic publications on the environment, he co-edited “Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab American Poetry” and authored the poetry collection “Flawed Landscape.” His poems and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies, including Littoral Books’ Enough!, and he has presented his work at the Belfast Poetry Festival and Gulf of Maine Books. He spends his summers in Arrowsic. 

Parallel to the Season

By Sharif S. Elmusa


My body says: walk.

The sidewalk signals this is the route.

Traffic lights, row houses, mini gardens.


The crocuses, little roosters

heralding the spring’s resurrection

in purple, white and yellow,

taunt the totalitarian

green of the ivy,

their predator’s greed.


The fig tree, artfully pruned,

hard fruits punctuating the branches—

is debonair, a fashion model

posing for the picture.


A half-broken statue,

in the hollow of its hand

an outcast blade of grass,

head bent: I’m in a delicate mood.


I move parallel to the season,

one step at a time.

To each their own trail,

squawks the squirrel,

a puffed-up acrobat,

flowing along the telephone cables,

flying to the trunk of an oak tree.


The immodest azalea—

beauty born of pain—

prods us not to dawdle

on the way to love.


A man suddenly stops me,

and, grinning, like someone who knows

he won’t be disappointed, he asks,

Are you Pedro, the poet from Guatemala?


On the bumpy pavements

I stumble on words.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “America” copyright © 2021 by Sharif Elmusa, appears by permission of the author.

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