RICHARD VANWAGNER

EAGLE PINE
For mom

My memories are often dusted
with the unrelated. Such is JFK’s death
powdered with the sound of snapping sheets
on an afternoon New England line.
As the taste of dark toast unbuttered dry
will always be sprinkled
with the crumblings of September 11th,
so my mother’s cancered death coated
my cold late-winter walks by eagle pine.

In chore there I grew still as she passed,
the stealthy flash of her winged perfection
countering the cries she hurled out and down.
Cries that I, brim back would catch
until my eyes turned up, would burn,
and I would be forced to swallow — or drown.

 

 

 

 

In time I knew she’d tip her fluid grace
to right — to light,
finding her evergreen embrace with ease
while I below damp kneed the grass
until my neck ached
and chest ceased to heave.
Listening, as echoes of her settled peace
were seized by sudden calls of liberty
that would tumble out on my shoulders
as prayers flew past —
then they were no more.

It’s been three springs now
since my mother took flight.
Yet she coasted in this year
with two brindled young at her side,
their pitched voices lifting up and out
filling my empty chest pocket.
And in the stillness of their rest,
as the winds of a new season were dusted
with the quiet chaff of talloned bark,
I found my hope renewed —
forever boughed in the heart of eagle pine.