Grief Has a Name
A full ten minutes at sunset, hundreds
of crows fly south over the woods.
Moments after the last one,
snow blows in from the north.
I follow sheep trails across the fields,
unwind details I have been avoiding,
mental terrain more suited
for moose than human.
Mom’s two birthday balloons cling
together in her dining room for a day,
before one migrates to the kitchen
and the other moves into her bedroom.
A day later, the bedroom balloon
floats into Dad’s study to stay
just above the books. Dad must be
directing this scene from beyond.
In my dream, he fades into view
in the doorway holding a basketball,
says nothing, watches while I read
on the sofa, then drifts away.
Grief wants me to call it by name,
knows all 360 joints in my body,
tapes their seams to keep itself
from floating into oblivion.
All the Sounds of Summer
As gently as he once held a fledgling blue jay,
he cradles his sister’s arm, traces each of the thin,
horizontal lines he never knew were there,
saddened by scars not yet faded to white.
All the sounds of summer vanish
as he enters into her night and wonders at the fluency
of hands that treat the body in such disparate ways.
How to fathom the plight of molecules gone awry?
Ever distressed at the sight of his own blood,
though he understands artery over vein, he can’t
understand pain that calls out for more pain and hopes
his sister will fly, as the fledgling he buried never did.
for Mary P. and Minnow
I offer to walk with her on the nearby trail,
get her out of the house for a while.
We greet Archie and Jughead, the goats
with curly horns, as we pass their pen.
I pick up a guinea hen feather to bring home.
She sets a brisk pace as we leave the farm.
It hasn’t hit her yet, this unexpected freedom.
She stops short, as if she’s seen an apparition.
A cow stares at us through the brush.
What are you doing way over here by the fence?
Shouldn’t you be over with the horses?
This moody cow moves around the horse pasture
every day, rarely spends time with the other cows,
sometimes goes off by herself to figure things out.
We leave the cow to her moping, resume walking,
then she stops, looks back down the trail.
Wait. Am I even supposed to leave the farm?
I have babies back there, you know.
I reassure her that it’s fine to take a break,
she nursed her puppies, she needs fresh air.
She catches a whiff of spring and trots off.
The robins and redwing blackbirds are singing,
the stream is flowing, the spring scents
keep enticing, we continue our walk.
A bit further and she stops again, looks back
the way we’ve come, looks up at me.
Are you sure I was supposed to leave?
My puppies might need me, you know.
I try to persuade her to keep walking,
but no luck. We turn back, the cow
is still at the fence, but she doesn’t notice,
she is so excited to return to her seven pups—
lick them all over, move them around
with her paws and nose so they all
get a turn to nurse—be a good mother.
Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now teaches piano in Kingston, Ontario, where she enjoys the outdoors year-round. Her prose, photos, and poems have won awards in North America and overseas and have been published in journals such as Ruminate, Juniper Poetry, Vallum Contemporary Poetry, Arc Poetry, Eastern Iowa Review, and Borrowed Solace.