No one says, ‘next year you’ll be missing a tree in your heart’

By Charity Gingerich

Because the world was poorly prepared
for the coming flood, one last late-blooming bird was singing
in the empress trees over the tigers
as they trudged to the ark, their backs swaying and striped
like the Allegheny mountains on a late fall day.
And I think God doesn’t want us to be too preoccupied with skeletons, their myth and beauty.
Instead, let’s examine the peach,
whose belly-fruit carries healing for what ails man. Vermeer’s still life portraits
of warmth and decadence are much more than warmth and decadence,
more than relief from the rain in a red boat going down the canal in Vollendam.
I biked in that place of heavy skies and foliage one summer,
my heart a late-blooming geranium unprepared
for the artist’s unfailingly truthful eye, the gap between my wheels and handlebars.

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May Elegy

By Charity Gingerich

When death came, lilacs
were sun-heavy, swaying,
I was familiar. Part of after.
Still, dazed. All-of-a-sudden:
facts to sort, clothes
to choose; we couldn’t bear
to say her name. She became the body.
The heart alone is astonished.
How do you carry a wounded bird
to safety? The orange trumpet
of its beak tense with warning.
Lord, you never told us this river
would come to break us, like blooms
from stems, from the crossing-over.

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Let’s Not be Abstract about This

By Charity Gingerich

Yellow butterfly under sun-bleached, curly-limbed sycamore
by the pond with its silver-headed sunning turtles,
please take a message to Mary, white and still
out there at the center, her head bowed to the world:

Mary, can’t you see
I don’t have a boat
and am doubtful
even at this distance
of how your sorrow
makes the moon more
every night beautiful
in its black lace sky.

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