Soft shapes touch a child's finger,
Memories of their sweetness linger--
Helping grandma roll the dough
In her kitchen long ago.
I like the shape your cookies take
When they spread out as they bake,
Like the changing shapes of crowds,
Melting snow or summer clouds.
Oven-hot and placed on racks,
Lined up , lying on their backs,
Coming from a single batch,
But none of them a perfect match.
Each perfection, like the next:
Chocolate chips their surface grace--
Freckles on a child's face.
Pecan ball aren't perfect spheres,
But they're gentle little dears:
Bottoms flat, sides dented slightly,
With white sugar sprinkled lightly.
Sugar cookies cold days cheer,
Shaped like angles and reindeer
Glazed with frosting sweet and white,
Decked with sprinkles all delight.
Santa's Whiskers, coconut rolled,
Long fat logs of sugared dough,
Cut in portions smooth and round,
Pecan bits, cherries abound.
Molasses crinkles' faces lined
Like old men's--the friendly kind--
With lines like back roads on a map,
Dunked in milk before a nap.
Oatmeal cookies, shapes amorphous
Juicy raisins budge enormous,
Semi-blobs, their texture rough,
Sometimes packed with nuts and stuff.
So many cookies through our life,
Since we became husband and wife,
In their sweet aroma and taste
Years rushed by like cars in a race.
Looking at their shapes diverse
Reminds me of our love at first:
We weren't sure just where we'd go
And all we had was cookie dough.
Nature's own inkblots,
By time and wind shaped
Each with a story to tell,
Fantasy stirring, recollection as well,
Knowing us better than we know ourselves.
Some have stooping shoulders,
Like old men after a funeral
Talking quietly on the lawn.
Some have boughs that slant down,
On teachers that frown--
Worried and skeptical.
Some stand at varied intervals
Along hilltops above a town
Watching like sentinels.
Some have branches that curve up,
Short, like fancy mustaches,
Or long branches, like eager arms outstretched
To greet a loved one.
Some stand very close, boughs touching,
Like families saying grace;
On some, the branches intertwine,
Like lovers who embrace,
And on some, the lowest limbs
Like a skirt raised by the wind.
Young ones crowd together,
Some taller than the rest,
Like kids choosing sides for baseball.
On some, the branches rise like smoke,
Billowing silently, curling,
Drifting to the sky
Like prayers from a little church
Where all the woman wear hats,
And every man wears a tie.
Like inkblots spreading they capture the eye--
Each with a story to tell.
By time and wind shaped:
They know us better than we know ourselves.
Warm spring rain on a tin roof
When I'm out after dark alone,
Snow-muffled tires of a car passing by
When I'm little and tucked in at home,
A song sparrow's voice in the morning
From somewhere high in the trees,
A brook's hoarse roar when the snow melts
And wind in the evening leaves,
The crackling coals of a campfire
The smack of a ball on a bat,
A chainsaw deep in the forest
As I drift away on my nap:
Sounds that bring life to life,
From childhood 'til I turn gray:
If I weren't here to hear them
Would they still sound the same way ?
Once the lightest snowfall comes
That clings to roofs and lawns
Like the silk slip clung to your hips,
The summer is over, completely gone.
We remember what never happened,
And because the years go in a circle,
We think our lives do,
When what they really do is unwind
Like a twisted thread,
Frequently changing direction.
Thought we yearn for it all winter,
It is a new summer that comes--
Not the old one.
We think when the summer returns
Things will be what they were,
But once its gone, its gone forever.
The leaves had fallen in the grove,
Red, pale yellow, copper and mauve;
I raked them up in a heaping pile,
Then leaned upon the rake a while
To contemplate my work--
Joy and sorrow, pleasure and strife--
A pile of leaves, the days of my life.
I thought I might not last 'til spring:
If only I could sleep the season
Curled up like a leaf;
When the snow had melted down
I;d come back like a flower,
Bright and joyous, ready to live,
Fresh and new again.
But now was the time to face the months
That buried things under the snow.
In February just a little hump
Was all you'd see on the floor of the grove:
The leaves would be resting there
While I struggled in the biting air
And snowflakes stung the skin left bare.
But the winter I survived
To find the wild flowers that bloom
Under hardwoods not yet green.
I've had another spring to roam,
Watched the leaves turn green again
And written down this poem.
On our summer lawn you lie curved,
Like a snake warming in the sun;
When I turn on the spigot at mid-day
How hot thy water doth run!
Sometimes you're hooked to a sprinkler,
Where the kids ran when they were small;
We wonder: where did the time go?
And just can't remember at all.
To our home by the river you came
And reached where the vegetables grew;
You watered them gently all season,
Out back, where the blue heron flew.
Gashed by the mower's cruel blade
You leaked: we thought you were gone:
But I got the parts to save you--
Thank heaven for Aubuchon.
Shorter, old friend, always there,
We still bring you in from the cold
To your special place under the work bench,
To store you in neat coils rolled.
Stretched out full length on the blacktop,
I raise one end towards the sky
And drain the last water inside you
To put you away, safe and dry.
I pray as I wind you in autumn
The dark winter we will survive;
My heart is already yearning
For springtime to come back alive.
To water our plants on the north side,
To feed the cedar hedge row,
To wash winter sand from the driveway,
Left by the last melting snow.
So sleep well, companion of years
In your circle there on the floor;
My the freezing days pass us by quickly,
May we join you for one season more.