LINES IN LATE APRIL
for April Tyrrel, upon hearing the prognosis
April has been characteristically brief,
coming in on a promise, but somehow
always circling the point.
Taconic streams swollen by the melting mountains
push impatiently against matted leaves and fallen
branches that seem to belong somewhere else.
Nightfall is a gentle rushing on the forest floor
and the piercing laughter of predators that slip through shadows
and edge along the lake where moonlight descends.
One day, April is icy, grasping and resolute.
Another time, the impudent, golden reach of forsythia
arches against the likelihood across gunmetal gray skies.
April ice can slip in unexpectedly with the sinking sun
to swallow tender sprouts like a crusty tumor.
Ice lays waste to fragile shoots on old wood.
In the end, the ice in April is every bit as fragile
as those new buds setting out a plan for summer.
These gnarled bones of birches have lasted another winter.
—from Rattle #7, Summer 1997