Between Grief and Joy

Between Grief and Joy

The beaten path is nondescript,
a right of way through pristine lawns
and tree-lined streets of gracious homes,
well-shaded in the heat of day
and sound as caves on winter nights,
with mantled fires burning low
to warm the dens of hibernating souls.

You head due south beyond the park
and come into a narrow wood
of poplar, elm and towering oak
that roam among adjacent hills.
Each time I venture off the path
I find my way through well-worn trails
the deer have made in search of scarce
reserves of acorn, shrub and bark.
It’s comforting to find the beds
of ferns—their lair in heat of day.

The part that leaves me with a chill
regardless of the time of year,
is thinking on the days gone by:
of summer evening barbecues
and late-night bonfires burning low,
deep piles of leaves where children played
in times of frost and harvest moon,
the spring-fed days when hearts first leapt
and hazy summer dog-day sweat.

And knowing things I need not know:
that there the owners split and fled,
the neighbors’ whispers in their ears.
And there a sudden heart attack,
the body crumpled mowing the lawn.
And there another fell and died
while loosening for his morning run.
And here I walk, now all alone,
the first season without her
at my side.

Tim Hawkins is the author of  Wanderings at Deadline (Aldrich Press, 2012), Jeremiad Johnson (In Case of Emergency Press, 2019) and Synchronized Swimmers (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). Another poetry collection, West of the Backstory, is forthcoming in late 2020 from Fernwood Press.

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