★ ★ ★ ★
Image by Yann Allegre
I wonder at your pale slips shooting up: too soon?
Meagre spikes poke, stalking the icy snow holding
tight to forbidding coldness.
How brave you are, scant underlings, to endure
the brittle air, to bring your tentative risings
above ground for all to see.
I like your approach. Admire it. Your future insecure,
you push on overnight to bare probable failings
in full exposure.
Despite the bitter frost, your spirit oaths a spring turn
for me in depletion to borrow, an assurance of greenery.
Take the risk. I cheer you on. Tomorrow it’s my turn.
Holding On (at the Annual Community Grieving Ceremony)
Piles of rocks await our touch, grasp, grip
by the doors splayed open to the chamber.
Greeted by caretakers known and new
we follow hand signals, hushed words
offered by soothing voices: As you enter,
choose a rock. Take it with you to your pew.
We carry much these days, survivors
of this year’s loss of loved ones.
Death brings us together. Binds us.
I helped two hospice patients die this year.
Do I take two? Loss remembers prior loss,
raises it to the surface from inner fathoms.
Though it’s been years, I think of my father
and take three. Later leaving the hall I return
two to the pile in the ceremony of communal
unburdening. I clutch the third, a granite oval,
pocket it to rub comfort from its aggregate,
to complete incompletion, feel composed.
Joan Hofmann is Professor Emerita at the University of Saint Joseph, CT, serves on the Executive Board of Riverwood Poetry and was the first Poet Laureate of Canton, CT. Her poems have been or are forthcoming in various anthologies and journals, including Guilford Poetry Guild Anthology, Forgotten Women, Waking Up to the Earth, Concho River Review, The Tiger Moth Review, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Wayfarer, Dillydoun Review, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Juniper, Bird’s Thumb, Spaces, Englyn, SLANT, Plainsongs, Vita Brevis, Plum Tree Tavern, Caduceus and Freshwater, and in three chapbooks: Coming Back (2014), Alive (2017) and Alive, Too (2019). She is a lover of the natural world, and frequent traveler, (pre/post-pandemic) when not walking or hiking near her home on the Farmington River.