We were waiting for a thaw.
The plots were tiny, the bones small.
We spaded the earth over itself for
hamsters, the parakeets, a cat.
There is nothing left here
of the people who called this home,
nor of the careful plan of the garden.
Another family mows the yard.
Pine needles thatch the ground.
A tiny egg falls from a nest, and against
the years, I find it, carry it around
the yard. I don't yet know
it will never be a bird. Other lessons
happen: training wheels, traffic,
secrets that shouldn't be.
The neighbors' kids grow up
and move away, cars are traded in.
Then, the light from the stars
of those nights arrives here.
Across the ravine between me
and those years are the voices
that called me in to dinner, that shrieked
in the spring air. I hear them
make the sound of my name.
Maybe I shouldn't tell you this.
Maybe by letting you know me,
I diminish myself somehow and become
smaller than my pets' bones buried
in the yard. But if disclosure is damage,
I don't know what else there is.
How else can we connect
in what we earn of these brief
and terrible days? So I want you
to have this: the yellow of the forsythia
on the hill in my backyard, year
after year, and my mother scrambling
down the hill, the gardening shears
in her right hand. She grasps branches.
Cuts. Comes back up the hill
by the path next to where the animals rest.
She arranges the flowers in a crystal vase,
sets it on the piano in the living room,
then puts the shears into the kitchen's
narrow junk drawer. She hums
to me across this afternoon's silence.
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