All suddenly black and white and remembered,
the dark crack of the creek through crazed snow,
snaggled branches above, red barberry below.
I stomp and pause. A hawk pings its prey
in the sky’s stratus comforter,
lined with blue and gray.
Juncos rattle bare twigs behind me,
a titmouse cocks its clever, tufted head.
Ravens knock and croak at meadow’s edge.
It’s been here all along, not even hiding.
Chafing and bursting, abrupt and bold,
winging or creeping or leaping in the cold.
“Only the inmate did not correspond….”
Bars pried open, I find myself here.
Left behind for now at least,
all sluggishness and fear.
I am no good at giving up things I love.
That is to say, giving with love, giving love.
Loving. Love. I’ve said it so many times now,
the word’s become funny, like when we were kids.
(Duck, we’d say. Think about it. Duck, duck,
duck, duck, duck! Then collapse, shrieking.)
How strangely the word unfolds and envelops
the mouth, starts with a note and descends with a hum
and a fricative. How strange its range, generosity
to despair. That a poem begun to self-chastise
ends with this. A paean to the word itself,
not its meaning alone, but its rarity, commonality,
flow and knot. The way it sticks in the throat
too often, or bubbles out too hot.
P. H. Crosby is a writer of poetry, fiction, and drama, published in Changing Men, The Other Side, War, Literature and the Arts, and other venues. Four poems recently appeared in “In this Together: A Virtual Exhibition on the Intersection of Planetary and Human Health” and a short play, “A Change in Climate” was produced in 2020 by The Lava Center. P. H. Crosby lives and works in western Massachusetts.