Old Riverside Oak / Bob Ambrose

It was early March then,
a year and eternity past,
we brought Dad home.
From his old blue chair
he peered through new
windows, not his own
as snow blankets froze
our Southern woodland
into hard white silence
and gray flows flooded
the shallow river shoals
with an icy hush.

Do you remember
that dark night’s cold
when bitter winds descended
from bleak polar plains,
showering limbs and ice
over frozen foundations
of our beleagered home?
Powerless, huddled
in a house leaking warmth
we covered this fragile,
this gentle-souled man
with blankets and love.

Strong against the night,
but in strength unavailing
over softening banks,
the old riverside oak
surrendered itself to swirling gray
and lodged in downstream shallows.

A year now it’s been, a year
of great loss, a year nurturing
      growth, and senescence
and the canopy fills again
closing gaps with lacy green
      softening the void
now filled with light, but
still, the void.

Springtime truth emerges
    from emptiness
with whispers of hope.
Mortal life, though dust
is forever redeemed
for we function within
    a greater whole
which cannot quite be
resolved in the fun-house
    of our dim perception.
So we see now in part
but miss the unity beyond
that surrounds the void
     in a cosmic embrace
apprehended, if at all
in a place beyond words
expressed in the silence
that speaks to the heart.

The old oak, which served the sky
still provides structure.
On trunk and limb
where hawk pairs once nested
mud turtles bask
gleaming in bright sun
    over fresh spring flow.

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