Law and Disorder Radio

A Poem for Len Weinglass

Almost Ready


“I have everything almost ready for the spring,”

you said. Brush cut, brambles cleared, new trees

planted. A lop-sided smile flit across your silver

stubble beard, a late winter field momentarily lit

by a break in a fleet of migrating clouds.


“Special, . . . hardy, . . . for the cold,” you whispered,

enthusiasm overcoming exhaustion.


“What kind?” I ventured, cross-examining

the cross-examiner, seeking just one word at a time,

measuring each breath, and willing the earth

to stop turning.


“Walnuts.”


“English, or black?” I persisted, watching

on memory’s shadow box, the scrawny fingers

of black walnut trees clawing their way

into the cerulean heavens of southern New Jersey.


Their meat is bitter; to get at it,

you run over the fallen nuts with a truck.


“English,” you answered.

a little impatient with the obvious, swiping

at an impudent halo of hair impervious

to authority.


English. Of course. You crack them open

with a simple gadget, sitting around a fire

with friends. The meat is sweet, forgiving.


Of course. Who would plant trees

that grow wild, and give nothing but trouble?


“St. Patrick’s day is for planting peas,” I ventured,

knowing that a false spring is more dangerous

than a late one, and that in the region from which

you spoke, every promise was false.


But you had drifted off, shoved by urgent winds

into a realm we could not reach,

where you still had so much to do to get ready

for a spring that was almost upon us.


for Len Weinglass by Linda Backiel

March 25, 2011

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