has been vanquished this July morn. Orange daylilies nod in relief,
their bloom almost spent but still
a few curl their petals sunward for their one day of glory.
On the porch, a mop’s wood handle rests against the weathered gray rail.
Its head, a white t-shirt torn and stuffed through the metal springloaded clamp,
is stiff and dry, a reminder of yesterday’s labor.
Water splashes in a gray metal pail, goldfinches dart from feeder to feeder
and a lone cardinal calls from its oaken perch.
(Is it true what they say, I wonder,
That a cardinal is actually a visit from a loved one who has passed on?)
Cucumber vines clamber up a stretch of barn red snowfence;
dill, basil and garlic tinge the air with invitations to taste, to cook.
A cat sits patiently on a stump, waiting for a wary chipmunk to reappear,
while a kitten dodges beneath the green
that is everywhere overhanging walks and garden fences.
A shovel bites black earth; my husband, in his favorite blue overalls, gently tamps earth
around the roots of a young Japanese snowbell; he pulls a red bandana
from his pocket and wipes the dew of sweat from his brow.
There is no breeze, no ruffling of leaves against the brilliant blue sky; the flag hangs limp,
its stripes and stars blurred together.
Miles away, I hear, there is a hurricane bashing the islands of the Outer Banks,
flooding the roads and tearing at the trees and houses. It seems like a story,
impossible to believe its truth when peace reigns within my view.
I watch the kitten named Soldier, our boarder while our granddaughter
goes away to prepare for war, to become a soldier herself.
Peace is, after all, a transient thing;
even on this quiet morning in the country
the drumming of the woodpecker resounds
like shots from distant guns.