The property line melts into forest, its late winter browns
Like a beast’s pelt; oaks hunched like sleeping bear;
Beech and birch extend into ugly candid possum hair,
And elms and maples muster into a passel of woodchuck.
The air waited on first signs of spring, curling up like smoke
Through your lips – petals thin as pencils, yet capable of shape
And form; they’re forced into a smile by a late March sleep
Being much too late for April showers. The ice is glassed
Over, bonding yesterday afternoon’s puddles into a crust,
The gouged march of cattle habitual for bleak pasture;
The frozen prints are filmy, each a black and white fish-eyed fissure
That gazes up from feathery hooks to ultimate grey; outside
We’ve come to test the meadows and taste the weather, greyed
As tombs. Embraced by down and wool, we try hard to ignore
The vestiges of conversational winter, snow that quipped before
In patches defers now to gelid mud. The quiet of the fire
In the parlor stove lives on – but questions hang in the air
Beyond their usefulness – like the organic smell of summer cotton
Released as a felt presence in the room by the heat of an iron.
So thickly dressed, you could be woman or man; though your feet
Are deliberate with feminine pause, your eyes have decided to fight
The urge to ever meet on the issue but maintain the differences
Like valleys that separate the hills with everlasting distances.
With half-hearted barking, geese announce their return, bounding
The fields with pump-handled pinions rising, falling, finding
Their shadows threading like dolphins through a splintered sea.
You look up at them and their shadows across the valley.
Your smile relaxes, warms up, shares the sky and ground with no one.
Your glance takes in the entire landscape without love, but then
You allow that spring may overwhelm us at any moment; I gather
Your silhouette by heart; it is the short memory of ice. The weather
Is turning chalky blue. (The day’s vanishing point held us where we stood.)
A slight breeze stirs the sleeping forest from its impenetrable mood;
The cold air pushes our shadows together. We share the horizon
To search for where a once-familiar tree is a woodpile now forgotten.