The Gate

How often did I beg the world for signs?
Fog purls above the river. Years have passed
like shadows. Everything that’s happened since

floods seamlessly together. Cold so dense,
it’s hard to breathe. You left me—I collapsed.
Why did I need to beg the world for signs?

Our final photograph—your shoulders tense—
no laughter there, no gesture of love. Our past,
flat as a shadow. What has happened since?

Time drifted like snow, absolving all your sins
and most of mine. I’ve saved the worst for last.
How when I begged the silent world for signs,

Her Rose Garden

It wasn’t long enough before the ground
began to thaw, before her garden woke

with sweeping waves of clover, the baroque
light gilding soft green buds, and all around,

wind lifting the early leaves, slow as a snake
curls on a sunlit rock.
………………………………….It might have seemed

miraculous—a ravaged world redeemed,
the clouds reflected on a sparkling lake—

except she left last fall, and he didn’t care
to kneel beside the bed, to coax and plant,

so wildflowers rambled through the weeds—
but still, her roses bloomed
………………………………….without her there,

My Mother Calls from the Hospital To Say She’s Fine

Her old performance—how it seems so clear:
Lines sprawled across a script I didn’t read.
Love weltering like curtains, ceaseless and sheer,
While fog-grieved headlights drift along the road
Down to the cape. Tonight, her final year
Goes by in silence as waves rise and recede.

Our lives were woven from a single thread.

Hundreds of small decisions led me here,
None will bring her back. Snow glints on the pier.
The houselights rise, and now the end is near
Enough to touch—but what about the dead?

They never lingered long, standing like deer
Just past the saplings. Tell me what you need.

Adam, Waking

Magnolia blossoms: lustrous as the moon
and smooth as ivory, soft against his skin—
but even in his dreams, he’s cursed: as soon
as he reaches out, they fall apart—again,

again—that vision of the delicate
ghostly petals strewn across the stone,
the distant knowledge of the guarded gate—
and his waking realization:
……………………………….. the Garden is gone.

Restless now, he stares at the rising sun,
that golden apple laid in a pool of blood—
but the lambs were sacrificed,
……………………………….. the seed was sown,
and remembering the past has done no good.

Ever After

with a line from James Merrill

Like children who have found the world is good,
we slip into the shadows of the wood
and follow doe-tracks downhill to the stream,
then with the pressure of the current cold
against our knees, we cross from dream to dream,
pluck golden fruit of which we have been told,
and sing the songs of childhood—stray deep
in an enchanted forest, where lifted by wind,
the hardened branches over us rise and descend:
the heaving muscles of a beast asleep.