Barbara Crooker (bio)
for Marjorie Stelmach
Time wears us down and away. Charles Wright, “Buffalo Yoga”

We’re walking on the back road, over the trestle, past the kudzu-covered
trees, where, around the bend, the mixed hardwoods are blazing,
a gaudy bonfire, and the long muscled Blue Ridge stretches out beyond.
This is a pause in the year’s frantic spinning, before the glitter and fizz
of the holidays. We’re talking about time, how rapidly it’s pulling away
from us, slippery as a silver fish. How we want to slow things down,
to press the pause button here. We know that unbearable losses
are waiting up ahead, and that practicing anticipatory grief stays nothing.
The sky is every shade of gray: cinder, charcoal, ash. A blue jay squawks
a rosary of repentance. Mother of Sorrows, Mother of Woe, have mercy
on our hearts, which have been cracked, mended, and cracked again.
Our lives are little matches: a brief strike, a flare, and then they’re gone,
small strips of cardboard, gritty bits of sulfur, so much litter on the ground.

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