"Catkin time" - Bob Ambrose, Jr.

"Catkin time"
February 25; March 14, 2014
(Bob Ambrose, Jr.)

When catkins swell the tips of alder 
red fringed auras 
of river side maple 
soften the bare edge of winter 

In air set sharp 
against the stale drift 
and sullen throes 
of late stage February. 

You would not call this tame day 
mellow – that is past and yet to be – 
but buried deep in dead brown 
sameness, spirits gather. 

I wish these days would hurry on – 
my mother’s presence 
pierces years to conjure sun 
and wrap the world in warmer tones. 

And I hear his gentle rejoinder 
that soothing faux-scold timbre 
tinged with a twinkle – 
Don’t wish your only life away. 

Dad was the ever-enduring hills 
she an effervescent air-kiss
the smiles and dreams of springs to come.
Now both are gone. 

So I throw on a warm layer 
zip inside my black hoodie 
and huddle out back 
in a broken pool of light 

Wishing with mother for 
ever warmth and winter’s end 
and feeling my father’s calm 
as if from distance – stay, stay 

Spirits of the earth and air 
are washed clean in cold breeze 
beneath the bare-branch starling tree 
on catkin edge of winter time. 

(photo by Michelle Castleberry)

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