Wednesday, February 20, 2013


(For Bruce)

The church bell
stands at the edge of your uncle's garden
swaddled in snow.

Still mounted on the trolley
you made with lumber from his mill,
it holds memories
of the ruined chapel

and how you transported
its metallic weight
from the burned-out lot
to his brick ranch
a few miles away.

If he were home
and not in a nursing home,
he would let it ring
to mark your passing.

One tolling
for the farm you tended,
the red tractor and summer fields
scrolled in hay.

Another for the wood
you split and stacked
so the nights would be warm.
Winter's curfew scented
with a hearth of crackling
apple or cherry.

And the last,
for your wife and daughters
who stand afloat on hardwood floors.
The polished oak absorbing
their shadows

and love for this home
you purchased then repaired
with second hand tools.

A pump still brings water
from the pasture spring
into the pipes. A spring
that is also used
to irrigate your uncle's lawn.

When the snow melts
flowers will wreathe the tarnished bronze.
Your beautiful women
will nurture tulips and ferns;

And in the bell-still air,
they will calibrate your heart --
how large, how luminous
pealing a psalm of return.

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