In the month of steeplebush
a few years after Frost’s death
I’m browsing his Ripton cabin.
A sibilance flows through it,
rustling the yellowed pages
of Modern Library books
arranged like country gravestones.
When I lie on his musty daybed
with its blue cotton coverlet
I see myself white and wrinkled
in landscapes smutty with flowers.
Steeplebush flaunts among them,
along with Joe-Pye weed, tansy,
yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace. At the foot
of Temple Mountain, fifty years
after my one trip to Ripton,
I slog along in my aches and pains,
still determined to hike myself
into a glory of fitness
unattainable in my eighth
decade. The fresh August sun
hones shadows as brisk as blades.
I still remember the feel
of Frost’s mournful possessions—
sharpened pencils left on the desk,
an armchair sagging from use,
a shabby green sweater on a hook.
No one will bother preserving
the hole I leave in the atmosphere.
But maybe on this modest slope
my presence might invoke the pink
of steeplebush, as if the light
were giving birth to itself.
(first appeared in I-70 Review)