Nancy Byrd Turner Poems >>
March

The March house, strangely, was built in a tree,
  With a fluttering roof of leaves,
  And strong, straight boughs for the walls of the house,
  And an apple or two in the eaves.
  A pair of fun-loving twins lived there,
  Who romped on the roof all day,
  And flew great kites when the weather was fair,
  In a most remarkable way.

Amos and Ann were very curious to know why the twins lived in a tree.

"Well, it saves time," the black-haired twin explained. "There are one or
two days in the year when we're bound to be up here anyhow."

The children looked puzzled.

"You see," said the yellow-haired twin, "we never have the slightest idea
how March is going to come in. If he comes in like a lion--"

"Then, of course, you want to be out of the way," interrupted Ann,
delighted with herself for knowing.

"Exactly," said the twin. "And if he comes in like a lamb, then we know
how he's going out, of course. So we simply get up here and stay. Listen
to our song."

Then they sang in duet:

  "When March comes in roaring, growling,
  Winds swoop over the hilltop howling;
  Bushes toss in the lashing gale,
  Right and left, like a lion's tail;
  Branches shake in the road and lane,
  Tawny and wild, like a lion's mane.
    Fierce and furious, he--
  But he's going out like a lamb;
    You watch and see!

  "When March comes in gentle, easy,
  Waggy and warm and mild and breezy,
  Little buds bob all down the trail,
  Short and white as a lambkin's tail;
  Hedges and ledges with blooms are full,
  Fluffy and fair as a lambkin's wool.
  Mighty switchy and sweet, and all that--
  But he's going out like a lion.
    _Hold on to your hat_!"

"There's not a single solitary clock at this place, anyway," Amos
remarked.

"Don't be too sure," J. M. told him. "It may be, you see, that the tree
keeps a clock in its trunk. First thing you know, the clock may speak up
and tell on itself, the way Tom Tuttle used to do."

"We never heard of Tom Tuttle," said little Ann.

"Never heard of Tom Tuttle?" echoed the Journeying Man. "Then you shall
hear of him, as soon as--"

From a hole in the tree came the sound of a clock striking loudly. J. M.
was bound to go on, then, just as he had begun, and so he said:--

  "As soon as ever spring drew near, and brooks and winds were loose,
  Tom Tuttle would be late to school with never an excuse.

  "So little and so very late! And when the teacher said
  That he must take his punishment, he merely hung his head.

  "She'd ask him all the hardest things in all the hardest books;
  And queerly he would answer her, with absent-minded looks.

  "'How many yards make twenty rods?' And Tommy said, 'Oh, dear,
  Twelve rods I've cut for fishing poles in our own yard this year.'

  "'How many perches make a mile? Now think before you speak.'
  'Perches?' he said, 'There's millions in the upper sawmill creek.'

  "'What grows in southern Hindustan?' Said Tom, 'I do not know;
  But I can take you to a tree where blackheart cherries grow.'

  "'Name Christopher Columbus's boats.' 'I can't remember, quite;
  But mine, that lies below the falls, is named the Water Sprite.'

  "'Now what is "whistle"--noun or verb?' 'I do not know indeed;
  But just the other day I made a whistle from a reed.'

  "Then all the little listening boys would wiggle in their places,
  And all the little watching girls would have to hide their faces;

  "And, 'Thomas, Thomas!' teacher'd say, and shake her head in doubt,
  And make him write a hundred words before the day was out.

  "'T was always so when grass turned green and blue was in the sky--
  Tom Tuttle coming late to school and never telling why."

They had a good laugh at Tom Tuttle; but presently the thoughts of Amos
turned to March hares.

"Do they ever come near enough for you to touch them?" he asked the twins.

"No, March hares are very timid," the twins said. "They are terribly
afraid of meeting the March lion at a sudden corner," the yellow-haired
twin added. "That is on their minds a great deal."

"The very best way to get close to a March hare," said the black-haired
boy, "is to take a reserved seat at the annual March-hare ball."

Then the two brothers told this tale; and Amos and Ann saw no reason for
not believing it:--

  "Maybe nobody's told you
  (For very few people know)
  What happens down in the meadow brown
  At the fall of the first March snow.

  "A flute-note sounds on the midnight,
  Blown by a fairy boy,
  And the rabbits rush from the underbrush,
  All nearly mad with joy.

  "Round and round in the wild wind,
  Faster and faster they prance;
  The moon comes out and looks about,
  And laughs to see them dance.

  "Cold frost covers their whiskers,
  But never their hind legs tire,
  And whenever a hare feels a flake on his ear,
  He leaps a full inch higher!

  "Harum-scarum and happy,
  They frolic the whole night through;
  Maybe you'll hear them dance, this year
  (Though very few mortals do)."