St. Oswald’s Day

St. Oswald’s Day

Buying a ticket to ride
the first ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge,
the ticket seller’s window sign screams: “Leap Day!”
I ask her. Then latte makers, the cigar-smoking pug walker,
and the policeman with a bomb-sniffing beagle:
“What is Leap Day to you? A holiday for card makers?”

      “If your birthday is today, you get one heck 

       of a party every four years and stay young.” 

      “I’m not paying for dinner.” 

      “It means you can ask him to marry you.” 

      “Or to the prom.”

Drivers loiter outside their cars taking in sun, 
watching the incoming ferry steam over the Sound,
admiring snow-capped Olympic peaks. 

I ask those who linger too. 
      “It’s how we keep time honest, turning seasons on cycle.
       Without it, we’d wander. Winter would be spring;
       Spring winter. Like that.”

I shake my hair in capricious wind,
wishing for blue petticoats to furl back at waves,
or silver slippers to toe-shoe on the sound. 
     Something for to leap. 
     I’m ready for dancing 
     and honest seasons.

The sun is madly spring silver sparkle
on windswept water. The moon is up 
over the mountains. Neither can decide 
who lights the light.  
By noon, hail pelts the fish house deck. 
Daffodils nod, accepting.

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Read more poetry at

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