A blind boy whose father dies finds no comfort
in a picture of him standing by the roses.
The musk, maybe, of an old sweater he used to wear,
but that will fade. If only the boy had saved
a few of the voicemails his father was always leaving,
all the times and places they would meet.
We never know what we really need. Here, let me
take you down to the banks of the swollen river.
Let me take you to where the river has begun to flood.
Every winter at the solstice we walk among
the muddy leaves. Every winter at the solstice we listen
for the high thin notes of the kinglets foraging
in the upper branches of the oak, with the chickadees, too,
and the yellow-rumped warblers: tsee tsee tsee.
Their quick, sweet, tumbling chatter. I will teach you
what to listen for. You can count on this: the solstice
always comes and the kinglets always fuss,
high in the bare trees, and every winter the river floods,
it thickens and swells and increases in volume
and increases in force, sweeping up branches and trunks
and carrying them along. Let me try to describe it.
The river is rising now. It’s beginning to race. It’s thick
and brown and wide. If we wanted to keep up
we’d have to run, faster than we’ve ever run before.
published in Ascent Aspirations, December 2016