2020 Porch Prize Winner in Poetry
The late afternoon light is reflected
at oblique angles through upright stones
and leafless trees. The snow is knee-deep
beside the lane where we stand listening
to the catch and release of our breathing.
The snow blocks our way to her grave,
where we knelt as children in summer,
offering prayers we doubted even then.
Now we study the scudding clouds
and lengthening shadows. And say nothing.
We have learned that words cannot bridge
the cleft between what was and what is.
Bonded in loss, we reflect in silence.
I would reach out to you, brother, but do not.
Would pray, but cannot. The moment slips
toward ice, snow, and shadow. As we turn
to go, you walk ahead toward the car arm in arm
with your wife, leaving me behind. I fear
we will not meet here again, where the spring
grass has always been mowed by strangers.
I bend, gather gravel from the road, and hope
you will not see me toss stones one after another,
underhanded, until one stone lands gently
and sinks into the snow that caps her gravestone.
It will be found after the thaw by the caretaker.
He will brush it away, thinking it nothing.