So lonely, these forgotten bones
that sing like struck tuning forks
at the prodigal sight of stripped maples
fringing the pillowed February hills.
I find I’m still pressed in the shape
of salt-box houses, lichened stones;
still hearing doves burble from naked oak;
smelling deciduous earth as it rises
beside the curling tongues of potholed roads.
All this was sacrificed on the long-fed altar
of dissatisfaction, as if sharp-toothed mountains
and far-wandering elk could satisfy
what pale birch stands in winter could not.
What remains is lost treasure, a cardboard box
I sometimes retrieve, following a stained map
of imperfect memory. Inside it still smells like leaves
and the kinship of place
on which I still rely
as the frozen trees wait for the sap
that rises in rhythm, having never departed.