Is April the Cruelest Month?

I’m conjuring all the weightless floating facts of one memorable April past and beckoning them to to land for a moment in a coherent thought.

Yes, like T.S. Eliot did in 1922, with his poem that begins with the burial of the dead, Waste Land, I am thinking April is the cruelest month.

April, I was walking up a snowy Brooklyn hill seven months pregnant and going to put in an apartment application. It can snow in April here. Hand-in-hand with my bouncing toddler in her first snow, I was an added 50 pounds heavier with my second child.

I kept walking looking for signs of spring and got to the slushy barren end of Brooklyn’s sprawling Prospect Park. I had moved from Miami back to New York that spring to be with my mom again, as she fell sick. The contrast of Miami’s steaming heat and vibrant colors with the cold wet gray browns of NYC was a bit sickening that morning. Walking, I was wondering what my father would do now alone where he was in the harsh upstate country of New York. The news just came that morning that mom passed away, April, 1992, and father said, “April is the cruelest month” citing T.S. Eliot.

Yes, I believed it.

Sun and shadow, memory and desire

Spring can seem overdue, like the near term baby inside who would not meet her grandmother, dark, heavy.  We would miss the promises of an extended family, there would be none of that here. Yes, I thought April may be the cruelest month.

But overtaking that memory is this one: here on the hill and there across the field the magnolia trees are actually blooming in the park. Look at their pale white lavendar tips emerging. Yes, hundreds of them are opening even in this chill as they do each April, it’s the daylight hours extending not the warmth that triggers their blooms. I lift my daughter up and she can touch the petals, so much softer than the handfuls of her first new snow. And I can see her grandmother is in her smile, in her laughter, and little fingers reaching for the flowers, and her brown curls, so no, spring is not too late. No, April is not cruel.

Here is nature pushing through with undeniable strength. Here is our planet responding to the whirling eternal sun. Here is the family continuing, growing, smiling, and laughing into spring.

I can fold away that gathered memory with the scent of the wet April morning here today. Twenty years later I can look forward to cleaning around the pale green lavender tips by the forsythia bush trailing over the back fence, which yes, is actually blooming brilliant yellow this cloudy morning even without the sun’s rays.

It’s glowing from something deep inside no matter how it’s fed, and so I think April is not only cruel, and maybe even be generous instead.

Spring flowers emerging over ruins

4 responses to “Is April the Cruelest Month?”

  1. Such an evocative substantive composition – very big emotion in such a small packet, from the first it seemed somehow large, as though the writing was reflective of the reality of the phrase ‘great with child’ – rather tremendous is what I want to say, yet would have liked to have said it better.
    Thank you Jennifer.


  2. April is my cruelest and most generous month. My second son was born 7 years to the day after my first son died.

    April 30th.



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