Once, clover overflowed my pockets.
lambs cavorted upon shoulders draped in timothy,
and my breath was sweet with pollen.
When leaves blushed under the sun’s knowing,
orchards ripe with promise bore fruit
rich and crimson. I felt the weight of their bounty
pressed upon me and yearned for more.
Later, geese and the last delicate song
birds were blown southward, over deep
furrows and shallow stream beds.
The wind quilted my fields, clumsy fingers tied
squares of sepia, umber, burnt gold with brittle reeds
bowing to November rain and the glossy weight of crows.
Now, I am pristine, snugly tucked on all sides,
Briars at my head cushion blossoms of snow
I am deceptively soft, an invitation:
Come lie with me here. Let me remember.
And, promise when you leave, the footprints
on my cheeks will dry quick and silver as tears
beneath a benevolent moon with it’s face turned aside.
A few gold apples cling to black branches
on a twisted tree I pass every day.
I walk and watch, filled with wonder:
how can you be dying?
My driveway seems steep, the house further away.
The weeping mulberry is a chandelier
balancing crystal tears, trembling and precarious.
I think of your eyes that rainy afternoon last summer.
It was the day we unpacked your hope chest
to make it lighter for the move to your new house.
“It’s heavy.” you’d said, “It needs to be
easier to carry.”
Your voice was soft as fingers stroking
the worn scrapbook, I remember
loose pages falling like leaves
when you picked it up.
It took us a long time: memories
lingered and snagged on fences
that seemed too hard to climb.
So many photographs,
a lifetime of greeting cards full
of words we’d never spoken…
you’d held on to them all.
Dried rose petals and newspaper clippings,
ticket stubs and school projects,
scraps of ribbon, your button jar.
We took everything out, loaded boxes
for moving day. It seemed easier to laugh then.
Your trunk is at the new house now.
You were wheezing yesterday when
you told me you hadn’t gotten around
to unpacking cartons yet; some things,
you said, you can only do yourself.
I understand, but help me not to cringe
when I picture your hope chest sitting empty
as each dusk steals the fading light from your room.