“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ False Spring

False Spring

by Sarah Elkins

The hoarfrost makes castles of the mud 
along the creek’s edge where the toads
have burrowed below the frozen ground
snuggled into their armies, unmoving 
except for the pulse of their zibeline throats.
In their death-dreaming they forget 
ice has stopped the water’s chatter. 
The toads’ tiny cerebrum has room 
only for springtime and summer.  
On this February afternoon the sun
inches closer to the creaking pines
rubbing their limbs together to make 
necromantic musings in the otherwise
silence, the temperature rises, 
and the sleeping toads think it must 
be the hour before their one long 
morning. Beneath a blanket of leaves 
frozen to the root-veined ground 
a concert of glad throats croak
in the still air of their dark bedchamber.

Sarah Elkins

About Sarah Elkins

Sarah Elkins (she/her) lives in southern West Virginia. Her work is forthcoming from or has recently appeared in The Cimarron Review, SWWIM, Painted Bride Quarterly, West Trestle Review, Porter House Review, and elsewhere. In 2022, her poem “Water Tension” was a finalist for the 2021 Quarterly West Poetry Contest. SarahElkins.com

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.