The earth by now has given up its claw-toothed crocus,
its first born. Still, in shadows,
snow lingers like the smell of old leaves.
The soil has been expanded and torn,
then resettled by the force of the sun.
This morning is dark.
The wind blows and the air is heavy with rain.
The pomegranate heads of the lilacs toss,
glance off one another, bruises among the leaves.
I saved the rose you once gave me.
In its narrow box it aged to the color of dried blood.
Now I stand beneath these sudden flowers
and remember how we rose in those mornings,
light filling our eyes.
It is barely spring, and I stand here
in the warming sun, hoping that God
will give me a vision, or children,
preferably both. I can see the balanced-
out leaves of last year’s poplars and hear
their delicate rattle. The buds of the shade
trees swell, tighten, and shine when
snow still lies heavily on their branches.
I think of death, of course. The snow,
though deep yet, is dying in its own way—
giving itself up to swollen currents,
brilliance in the sun, somehow joyous
in this transformation. I am alone
by chance, not by nature, and dismayed
at this condition. My feet are cold. Sense
withdraws as the blood shuts down. Just
as I move to head back home I hear
the chirr of the cardinal. Its blood-
red body beats into the light when
it bursts from the trees—the branches
discard wet snow and the bird disappears
into the face of the sun which floods
this white ground with indifference,
and I am warmed to the bone by this circumstance.