Ruth was cold all the time after Gilbert died.
It could be the middle of a June night, the front
acre a chirp and twinkle in the tall grass gone
to seed under the rural sky, but she'd
have her old log burner smoky white,
wearing her shawl the way preacher's widows
have always done, asleep in the parlor chair
that nestled Grampa to his grave. The spring
when Ruth was gone, too, I remembered my finger
traced the grease from candies on the glass
atop Gilbert's desk, the yellowed picture he kept,
a black and white clipped from the back
of a book, perhaps, or a post card. The white-
haired man in an autumn wood kicked at the earth
beneath a leafy back yard, hands in the pockets
on his black pants, his face thrust forward
as if to prevent a fall, and his eyebrows
arched in fury. 'Who is that, Grampa?'
He opened a book, said 'The birch swinger,'
and read a poem about a boy who bent the trees
in his father's woods, and the paths of life
and death were in there, too. We stood silent
where the sun curved through the study window.
Outside, the leaves fanned with yellow and red.
Mark T. Curry