Station Yourself on the Rock

Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, Mass.—
a geological anomaly—meant
more than that to you and me
(no scientists we at five and seven)
who had come with parents
to picnic a lifetime ago.
Pictures emerge in my mind
of sharp outcroppings of towering rock
intimidating in their seeming leaning
at a cautionary angle that said, Take care,
and we did, climbing that rocky place
named by Puritans as Purgatory
where the soul is cleansed by fire
before coming into the presence of God
enabled to bear the beatific vision
which otherwise it could not, recalling
Moses, hidden in rock and waiting to see
the glory of God pass by, but only
allowed the hindmost parts, as no one
could look on the face of God and live.
As smoke rose up from our charcoal grill—
hot dogs, chips and tonic ready—
we sat at a picnic table and shared
the family meal before God.

The Accidental Hydrangea

Just in time for a summer wedding
the white hydrangea bloomed.
Both guest and greeter beside the mailbox
it grew from the gravel of decades of winters
plowed to the side of the road. Each white
puff a bridal bouquet, doubled in number
of blossoms this year at the time of the first
anniversary, with an added blossom
of the couple’s own: a baby girl, born.

Hello, Goodbye

Off you go on your tractor to split the wood.
Seems I’m always hailing you from a distance,
you at your work, I at mine watching you,
recording your work on a day in spring
that is already looking through summer
to the cold trap of winter beyond, knowing
the flare of color in fall a brief fire
that will not last but will end as we will––
brown and sere––pushed off our branch
by the buds of another spring.

Fooling My Mother

Deep summer hung purple
from brambles in the blackberry patch
as we ate berries three at a time
grew violet mustaches and birthed freckles
in the space of an August afternoon.

Our teeth accustomed to Turkish Taffy
Bit-o-Honey and squirrel bars
we marveled at the sweetness freed
by a simple caress of the tongue.

The dropping sun reminded us
of what our mother had said,
Fill up your pails.
I’ll make jam and pancakes tomorrow.

Too late. The berries almost gone
someone said, Fill the pails with grass
with berries on top. She’ll never know.

My brain drips blackberry juice.
My fingers are stained beneath the skin.
If I squeeze my heart with my hand
it comes out purple.