…bear witness back, be here

by Elizabeth Cunningham

frost in the night, shining at dawn, melting at noon 

flowers give up the ghost on black funeral stalks

I come with the clippers and cart away my dead 

light shining through windows and cracks in the old barn

makes patterns with the beams, the weathered boards, the dust,

draws my attention, turns me to some mystery’s heart

the tender of an empty shrine, that’s what I am

the gods may be here, though the devotees have gone

still the sleeping ground is alive, birds feast on seeds

hawks roll over on the wind as if on a bed

big spruce lies on the lawn, a dogwood crushed beneath

in the same storm’s wake, downed trees, playful birds of prey

some are planters, some tenders, others harvesters

of a field, a time, a place. After the fall falls

who watches, sings, and sweeps until it’s time to sleep

Elizabeth, the land is your wordless witness

forms pass, trees and buildings fall, people come and go

stop trying to stop them, bear witness back, be here

(assembled and completed on Halloween, 2012)

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