Stuart Greenhouse

The Smell of Warm Grass, and Shakespeare’s Majestic Silence

are the open last October day

of warmth arisens which we cannot but

mistake for spring. Think April; think Perdita


blushing, proof that art is what we are

most when most ourselves—I don’t mean art

like lying whispered out ears, making up


what those ears hear like dolls of eden-stuff

we foul out of each breath for our shame

as her father did, lost to himself—


but listen to her words, how she becomes

what she perceives, and how her lover, listening

with his tongue for her, savors a satiety


which satisfies itself. If ears can hear,

if ears are what I think they are—empty

bubbles filmed with light rising through empty


me—if perception lives, a low-branched sparrow

too simple to confuse October, April,

too simple to forget to not sing, and I


film with this smell of green the risen silence,

pretend it is spring again without the must-

be-death-hard interlude, the awful white


passed through, box of dust and radiators,

kleenex, hacked bedroom lonely as a crypt,

Perdita, gentle bird, come remind me,


back-silver your silence, let me smell the Earth

settling with a bellyful of sun,

let me know myself why I grow vocal


in this down-light crusting March-frost-deep

a crow’s back as if on and in were equal;

presager memory, gone and not gone, I want more


and less than that man who, it seems, when

he felt the last balm-day, the second spring

arrive as I now, knew, as you, sparrow, know,


to stop singing and, thus emptied, to perceive.



“The Smell of Warm Grass, and Shakespeare’s Majestic Silence” originally appeared in The Antioch Review, and then in What Remains, a chapbook published by the Poetry Society of America (2005).