Gather nuts and hawthorn branches,
Build a fire and pick a posy,
Dance with ribbons ’round the pole,
wash your face in the morning dew.
The first of summer has opened its eyes,
the world is fresh and new a-borning,
It’s May, it’s May, the birds all sing,
and the lark flies high this morning!
I hear them calling me to leave this place and drive to town,
To listen to their eager words and laughter, to hear the news
Of who did what and when and to whom it was done and why.
I can almost hear their words, tumbling over each other in excitement,
their laughter ringing out like the bells in the church tower,
Singing over and over, “Come! Come and join us!
Hear what we have to say! Tell us your news!”
I almost give in to the temptation to wash my garden-dirty hands,
Sleek back my hair and shed my work-worn jeans,
But I resist.
There are chokeholds of bindweed to remove from the lilies,
And the petunias need watering. Tiny weeds sprout between
The parsley and dill and the dogs have scattered the mulch
That beds the lavender. I plod on
with my watering cans and dirty hands, and for a moment
settle on my haunches to listen to another song—
The honeybees working the persimmon bloom above my head,
The bumbling bee on the pink spirea, and the clatter of my husband’s tools
As he repairs, once again, the ailing mower.
The din from town disappears; I hear the slosh of water
falling on thirsty ground, and in my head the words of this poem
Find their timid way.
On my way out this morning
across the ridge and around
the end of the world turn
I looked in my rear view mirror
and saw what I was leaving behind.
It is not easy to keep going
when I know that behind me
the dew is soft on bending grass,
the birds are calling from nests,
turkeys herd their young,
tomatoes hang ripe for picking,
dill and basil are ready for harvest,
and flowers turn their heads,
just as I did,
to see what was left behind.
The leaving is quick, easy:
what remains behind,
messy, unfinished, and raw.
It’s only one, he says.
just one that leads to another and another
until at last there is no remembering
of the one that started it all.
once there was love
and trust, unbidden
once there was a lover
and the past was forgiven
but love was scorned, and trust broken
and then there was nothing worth keeping
and less worth the cost of remembering
She was damaged goods and he
was there, not waiting
but just there, friend of a friend.
Big hand outstretched,
His big heart caught hers,
and broke her fall.