Outside, wind whips green limbs of willow, loud,
against my window. Bees struggle in mid-air,
land, cling to yellow catkins plumed with pollen.
They ride the whipcrack till they’ve done their work,
then stagger, laden, back into the air
and grab another brutal ride. I watch for hours,
doze off, then waken to a salmon moon.
I stretch, and suddenly remember how, asleep
but restless in her sleep, my first wife lashed
the bedsheets, moaned, and shuddered. I’d spread my hand
on her back, just below the shoulder blade.
She sweltered—damp, hot to the touch. Dear God,
I prayed, let me bear all her suffering.
Let me take it for her.
That was when I was very young, when I
thought suffering and work could do all things,
or undo them. But now I pray, God bless
the willow, bless the bee, the wind, the pollen.
God bless the bedsheets and the salmon moon.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 9 Number 4, on page 45
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