For My Husband on His Birthday (or, of winter and waiting)

This winter lasts, but our time moves steadily from its first unfolding,
and we find ourselves in the already but not yet
of the journey.  Green plants push through dirt
beneath the frozen snow.  Sunlight shines through windows
covered with a long winter’s filmy grime.  We wait for warmth
and wait for wisdom.  We are in Easter’s Advent, praying, listening.
The cardinals have returned to the barren forsythia, looking, flitting
from branch to twig to ground, searching.

Perhaps we are a nesting pair, arriving, looking, searching,
putting all energy into choosing, collecting, building, and then,
hoping.  What will this next spring surprise us with?  A lush garden,
a field of wildflowers?  A new truth?

For now silence may fall with the snow
while we remain steadfast and full of hope.

Waiting Through

The glass door is decorated with nose-smudges,
tongue-presses, and who-knows-what kinds of fingerprints
while the Christmas window-clings lie sparkling on the floor.

Advent has popped upon the top of me,
quick on the heels of a slow-in-coming Autumn,
a Thanksgiving whose late appearance leaves me rattling.

Our hand-made turkeys still hang on the wall,
probable witnesses to the Epiphany this year:
oxen, sheep, turkey.

Even on these cloudiest and darkest December days
the mess sparkles: strewn toy villages, soggy napkins,
crumpled tissues, packed bedrooms, loose bath towels, squabbling voices.

In the attic, the wreath and four candles wait for me to find them.

I hear the wind in the oaks and locusts

I hear the wind in the oaks and locusts behind me but feel nothing.
Then it hits me
wicking my hair away from my ears.
It carries the smack of collisions–
of bat and ball, of ball and glove–
and shouts, deep shouts
of “strike,”
even the old “atta boy! ”

Trucks, cars, and vans rumble past the fields,
tires crunch over the gravel in the lot,
sweat coats my skin when the clouds move away from the sun, and
bumps prickle along my arms when the clouds block the bright heat.

No doubt my boy is spitting sunflower seed shells on the dugout’s dirt floor
looking through the chain-link fence
joining in with the shouts of his teammates
waiting for his turn at the plate,
waiting to swing or hold steady-
always waiting,
always a decision to be made.

A drop of rain hits the back of my neck
when he comes up to bat.
He waits for the pitcher to check the runners.
He waits to see if the ball comes through the strike zone.

In the end, he walks to first,

He has a good eye.

Years from now he’ll remember some of this. He’ll remember stealing second on a passed ball. He’ll remember the feeling of sunflower seeds tucked into his cheek. He’ll remember the smell of the dirt, the sound of the bat hitting the ball, the feel of the ball landing in the glove.

He’ll probably remember pitch counts, and innings, and outs, and scores, all facts that fly from my memory as a matter of course, the way dandelions let go their fluffy seeds to the wind.

Years from now, when the wind gusts far off and he hears the leaves rustling before he feels the air on his skin,
he will tell someone the details
the way his dad has told me.