Photo by Just Jim

Stopping a season in its tracks
By Chris Hassig

Have you wished to stop a season in its tracks? 
To curl up in its ephemeral corner
To be engaged, one by one, to all its wonders
To stop time, I guess

It’s coming on to lilac season
When my folly reaches full bloom
Winter withers to the peaks
The season takes me by the nose into its ripeness

I’m down by the swelling river
What does the river smell like?
I couldn’t tell you, but I know
Each year I think i forget, but then I find myself on the bank 
There it is
There’s a certain coolness, moisture and density pulled in with it,
But that’s not the scent itself

I wander past the boundaries of my language
Find myself tongue-tied and surprised
How are there no common words to describe any of this?
I’m digging in the water, able to sense a solid object below the surface
But unable to mouth and free it into translation 
It lives in mystery and intuition

Turning and scaling the river’s bank I’m hit with different multiplying worlds of smell,
Trying to name these vegetal waves of spring that layer and run together in the shifting breeze
And failing
Muddy slough, willow and dogwood, wild apple blossom
New grass pushing up through dead leaves
Stripped bark

I can’t even find a neutral term
That word ‘smell’, it comes out ugly, biased
All the basic words I grasp
Smell, stink, stench, odor, whiff
Scent, fragrance, aroma, balm, perfume
Feel rough and reductive to me
Ham-handedly dividing these fathoms into implied bad and good
Without stopping to really sense them out 

The smell of the river, the breath of returning spring, it’s neither good nor bad—it’s just
More than that 

So here I am, breathing in, trying to hold a season in
Steeling for the heat
In love with a world beyond words