A Poem for Len Weinglass
“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.
“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
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