Serviceberry Time
Out of the mists of winter
the mountains raise up another spring.
The serviceberry, long-gowned in white
walk down the gray slopes, calling
for the circuit riders to come
and preach the funerals of the winter’s dead.
Yesterday the service for a good man
gone long before he died.
Weeks ago I saw his wife at the store
wandering aisle after aisle of grief
examining each package
like another fact she had to face.
We drove home in silence
the ache of color around us.
“Spring is so fragile,” you said,
“I wish I could stop it, just here.”
There was cold wind from the west;
we heard the forecast of a killing frost.
“Come outside,” you pled, “and see my flowers.”
Feeling the cold descend around us
we knelt over bloodroot
long-spurred violet, trillium,
trembling in the wind, their perfect faces
looking into an indifferent sky.
I saw you then by an Adirondack stream
age eight, your father fishing somewhere,
discovering these tiny wonders,
windows into what you wanted the world to be.
I loved the girl then, streamside and alone.
You said, “I wish I could stop us.”
This morning the rhododendron
told us it did not freeze.
Under a blue sky, the day spreads before us:
we will make a new bed in the south garden;
we will look for the fern fronds opening
and listen for the pileated’s hammer.
Together we will haul the cut brush out
and then we’ll feel the tiredness take us down.

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