What we fear may not come to pass. Though the wind this year has been violent,
and the sky rainless, the tree we planted in front of our house
because we imagined some kind of life there, some green hope,
some shelter from the weather and the neighbors, may survive.
As I drive to work, my car filters in the woody smell of smoke
from the grassfires beside the highway, and the sunrise is as red as it will be at the end.
In a spring like this, the topsoil blows away, and the ground is hard, unforgiving.
Just yesterday, my black colt came up lame, short-stepping and dragging a hind toe.
He knew only I could help him, but there was no blood, heat, or swelling tissue—
nothing to show me what hurt. A strained muscle, maybe. A stone bruise.
Today in Brussels, the planes are grounded, bright birds sunning on the tarmac
while the edges of glass shimmer beneath. This morning, people like us,
holding whatever they thought to take with them,
ran down the dark tracks in shadowed tunnels toward uncertain ideas of air and light
while smoke billowed behind them, quiet as the voice of a ghost.
None of them knew soon enough that they wouldn’t make it to work this time,
that they would be given new reasons to run, that their pasts would become the same,
would become more frightening than the darkness that lay ahead.
This afternoon, I’ll check the horse’s leg again (he is gentle, and won’t kick),
feel down the thin tendons that keep him on his feet, see if anything has changed.
I’ll haul water to the tree, prick myself with its needles, kneel to feel the ground around it.
I’ll worry, as I so often have, that I won’t do enough to make it live.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 1.
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