Dear Uncle Willie


When you said:  "God made the nuts,

    but he left us to crack'em,"

did you know that one day, your grandson

    would crack a code

even Archimedes could not fathom?


He knows the secret of calendar clouds,

    how hepaticas, small and violent

with infant faces, push up

    from between dried leaves.


He knows, as you, there in your comfy grave,

    where to dig in, when

to break through birch glimmering with light

    like the day he asked me

in the leaves riding high above the trees,

    asked me not in the stippled church,

but walking the woods we love, the red

    tree burning through the brush,

hugging each vine to our skin and you,

    rock and soil, winter and spring,

an aged poplar growing new roots,

    spreading your limbs to hold

this place, this light . . . the shad bush 

    with a veil of white flowers.