It was an evening at the edge of summer,
And we were standing in the apple grove:
The imbricated branches of the trees
Latticed the ground with shadows, and the sun,
A golden ostensorium in heaven,
Lighted the grass between.

Nothing prepared
Me for your question, no pressure from your hand,
No tender hesitancy in your voice.
A sudden shattering were your four small words,
“Why do birds die?”

Your intonation was so soft, subdued,
So non-protesting, so unanswerable.
Intuitively you knew, a child of three,
I could say nothing.

We were powerless,
You with your question, I with no reply.
A touch from me were violence, so I stood
An unintruding distance, weighted down,
Rooted, not able nor desiring to move:
And you seemed rooted like the silent ferns.

“If I were God,” I thought...
And instantly
A reconciliation gathered up
The fruited globules and the saffron light,
Gathered the question, the question with no answer,
Gathered the father in the grove, the son,
Gathered the poignancy of first-felt death,
Fracture, probing, pitying and loss,
Gathered them up and led us into peace.

We were not given leave to walk away
Until a star came out above the roof.
Then you suggested that we go inside
To eat our supper before time to bed.
How loud the tinny crunch of wheels was
As I pulled you in your wagon down the path!

Copyright 2008 © George Edward McDonough.  All rights reserved.

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