It was a hot July morning
but my three-year-old insisted on wearing snow boots.
She settled into the stroller, still in pajamas,
for our normal spin through the prairie.
I didn’t stop until she begged to get out,
to step off the path to
grab a handful of Saskatoon berries,
to stand by the pond and yell
over the deafening chorus
of red-winged blackbirds,
to pinch off wild chamomile flowers and stick them up her nostrils
like an old woman inhaling smelling salts.
Near the end of our walk we went through the cemetery.
A truck was parked in our path
and a worker with a full suit and respirator
began chiseling a new name.
The drill screamed and scarred the concrete while I tucked my chin
to my neck, closed my eyes and hurried through
the cloud of dust. After we passed I turned
to see the worker raise his gloved hand
and wave. His bright eyes and strong,
sweeping arm told me that even he
didn’t believe it.
Didn’t believe that it happens,
didn’t believe that Leif or Jesse or Jason
won’t grow old, didn’t believe what the
green earth held below
or the markings he made on the tombstones.
But now, months later, the sky darkens early,
dry leaves tumble across dirty streets and
I’m trying to remember what was so improbable
on that summer morning.
Will there ever be a day when winter boots
seem ridiculous? When warmth and light return forever?
When we won’t need blossoms
to wake us?