Southeaster

April 5, 2015

The riverstreams are stained with stands of green cane, hepatica white, doll’s eyes, wake robin and golden seal.

And little girls’ Easter dresses mirror these colors. Children have come to Grandma’s house, for the Easter egg hunt and the ham and the green bean casserole. And the one little lad who can’t find a single egg and he bawls and a mom cries, “There’s a pink one.”

The mothers bend in the wind, their dresses pressing into the spaces between their legs, overseeing the hunt while the fathers, trousers legs flapping, huddle by the house and the grill and hold beer cans and smoke cigarettes and look inward.

This is a hollow walk. I have widely scattered family, so I send the day alone and only get nostalgic when I see a tiny princess riding her daddy’s shoulders, and I say, “Little girl, you have four legs—how is that?” And she shrieks with pleasure, revealing tiny, poky front teeth.

The forest paths are draped in bloodroot and spring beauty and Jacob’s ladder, and Jack-in-the-pulpit unfolding languidly. Dwarf larkspur pokes through the dead leaves and toothwort shudders in the breeze along the ground. These are the wildflowers, their seeds passed through the guts of birds and squirrels and shat on the loam and swallowed by the loam.

Waves of blackbirds form Baroque glissandos on the sky. What might have the pianist Glen Gould made of the music? A committee of turkey vultures perch in a circle on the ground, flapping their wings and calling the meeting to order, their voices harsh.

Last call—last frost—time to plant to winnow to separate to prune to pull from the fecund soil. Oh, the babies, the babies and

(the riverstreams stained with stands of green cane, hepatica white, doll’s eyes, wake robin and golden seal).

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