POETRY: Starting Over, by Mary F. C. Pratt

Starting Over Mary F. C. Pratt

—and do you remember the night the long rain stopped?
We woke to silence, and moonlight through the high window.
No sound but the animals breathing in their sleep—
—and the owls—

It was so hard to wait
but when the dove did not return
you worked open the swollen latch
and we pushed the ladder out.
I shooed away the chickens—
all those chickens underfoot.

You insisted on going first
even though your rheumatism was bad—
and I came down right behind you
with my knees not so much better.
Soft wet dirt, all the swamp stink,
but not a cloud in sight.

On top of the hill, that one tree
—Olive—with little leaves unfolding,
beginnings of buds where new olives would be—

The children crowded down behind.
Everything that could fly flew;
and the mice and monkeys, squirrels, possums,
horses, camels, cats and dogs.
Stones everywhere, like bones;
and bones, so many bones.

I scattered the seeds I’d saved on the slick and blackened ground.
You made a pile of stones, went back in and fetched a lamb, a calf.
The sun warmed my face—
We brought the fire from the little lamp
while the bow shimmered there, hanging there—

Somehow the freedom of it—
so strange even now remembering it, believing it—
knowing that we are the ones—
the making and mending, the losing, yielding,
how it all comes out—

So soon the olives bloomed, blossoms fell,
little seeds grew up to grain.
We made wine from the grapes;
apples ripened red, so sweet,
on every clean-picked twig the nub of next year’s fruit;
in each white heart one strange and impeccable star.

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