The second week of Lent I walked
under crows fine in their
calamity, the wide dark wings, the heavy
rusted hinge in their throats.
I heard them once,
twice, too many times. They were a cloud
of bad hooks coming down, complaining.
The path lay ahead and went up,
mostly mud, but water
moved quick under ice, the sound
of anyone crying, then door after door
closing against it. So the light
gauzed over early, from 4 o'clock on.
Lent because of that, or because
of the branches, still spiny and bare.
Into the old leaves of summer I read
oak and black willow pressed
into the furrows, the half-frozen bootprints.
Lent because I kept walking, or because
I hadn't slept.
Always, one is told things
after a death: the woods
will give way to a field, or grief
has its own sweetness, or
she will come to you in a dream
if you ask. But it was all thicket
where I walked, one woodpecker
circling and circling the same
dead tree, probing and listening.
He never left the high wood.
Finally is a word like stone, like
water. Or opening like water and closing
like stone. And finally the woods
opened to a field. I saw
a family there
before distance swallowed the,.
I saw their bright coats
get smaller, the children
lagging behind the mother
turning back to them and speaking.
It's lent, I told myself, as if
this were a reason. For a long time
I watched for larks in the half-light
where tall grass
was bent and tousled like the hair
of a child after sleep.
Love is a wheel and a weight. Once
I slept perfectly, not knowing.