What Price Love?

for my grandson, Ezra

A monk in a hairshirt is no surprise,
but how much more on a three-year-old

who in a moment of love for his nenna
secreted a bracelet in his slipper, from

his day care center as gift for her and
trod upon for a whole day. Did the plastic

beads dig into his tender foot? Did the five
little piggies squeal and ouch? The answer

lost in that day’s history is found
in the bracelet itself, hung over the sink

in his nenna’s kitchen where she washes
dishes beneath the glow of the pink halo

hanging there. Beyond penance, beyond
pain, this bit of chosen love shines forever.

Esther’s Garden


I flick an orange seed off my finger
onto the spongy ground. Immediately
memory springs up, and I see my mother’s
orange trees arrayed in clay pots
on our back porch, grown from seeds
in that seedy place of dirt yards where
children played hide-and-seek, while up
above them, beyond their vision, a garden
grew. We carried that garden, pot by pot,
branches bent by new fruit, into the back
hall when frost threatened, but we never
ate the fruit of those trees, destroyed
as it was in a single night by a frost all
out of season that surprised as much as
the fruit itself and raised the threshold
of hope beyond our reach.