by Claudia F. Savage
The year dampness trumped the will of the sun.
The year apple trees he thought barren
clung to the last of their fat fruit.
The year even weaker branches
had purpose as kindling. That year,
he received Jesus.
When the snow reached the window
he sank into the bathtub water
as if he were the source of thaw.
Every bird, every cloud,
On the mountain there was no room
for confusion, uncertainty, misstep.
He faced the hill to church as mountain goat,
even in rain, ice. He bent to the task
of vegetable picking and cotton,
though the bag was wider
than his slight body.
And when the coffer was empty
and his mother cried at the kitchen table,
he offered his saltiest tears to the snow.
Optimism feasted on his heart.
He was taught prayers to outlast darkness:
gather, save, hope.
Late winter, he lay beside me, finally
searching for the heat off my body
as the snow fell unending.
I was a field, ground stiffening with cold.
He was not the supple light.
Years of him unwilling to lie
in my hips bright grass
made me his apple tree
succumbing to cold.
Even metaphor failed us.