It was the winter I became a locally renowned songwriter
The cold hands of melody reached for me
Whenever we'd turn out the light
The kerosene glow of the heater
The rocking chair moving of its own accord
Our house by the lake, deeper in the mountains.
We put up the feeder that winter
Songbirds do brighten a day, we thought
It could have been a bad time
Spirits moved into our bodies from old quilts as we slept
Spirits of the ladies who made them gathered
Around a living room, some old house
Somewhere in this very holler, but years from here.
I made up songs, quiet songs, on the piano
The cold is bad for tuning, which added character
Like all those Matisse pictures
Products of bad eyesight.
You paced from window to window
To outrun the dread sleepiness
A dog whose master had gone out
You grew a wooly beard that could not hide
Your wolfish grin and your wild boredom.
Our vegetarian oath, pots of lentils on the stove
You begged for meat by February
And for Valentine's Day I roasted you a chicken
Whose dry bones still litter the compost heap
I can hear all those earthworms curled around them
Soft sucking sounds in my dreams.
Now that you are gone
Now that I threw you out come that spring
Out into the forsythia and dogwood bloom
Out by Easter, I rolled away your stone
And watched you ascend the driveway
Before the highway that snakes
Down the mountain towards town
And over the side, our whole valley spread wide
The Toyota took out the young trees
One by one in a comic slowing that never really ends
I imagine you hit the wipers to clear off all the leaves
That cling stubbornly to the windshield
After three days of April showers.