WALKING THE WOODS WITH YOU ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
The rain has swelled the scent of sod’s decay.
You squat to a toad, squashed except its head,
a wasp, eating its eye. So this is the way,
and wondrous, that the living are fed by the dead.
Here, sap binds the wounded flank of a maple.
Here, lichen day-glows the dark wet bark
of a fallen branch. We thread past a kettle
pond once ripped by glaciers. Mosquitoes mark
my arm. I’m their chance, as I try to greet
my fear, slow impatience. I can’t plug
each leak. We’re here, your heart and mind beat
irregular time that wears us with a shrug
the way these branches must submit to air.
Next year? I hadn’t meant to make a prayer.
Wendy Drexler’s third poetry collection, Before There Was Before, was published by Iris Press in 2017. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, J Journal, Lily Poetry Review, Nimrod, Pangyrus, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, South Florida Poetry Review, Sugar House, The Atlanta Review, The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, and the Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in numerous anthologies. She’s been the poet in residence at New Mission High School in Hyde Park, MA, since 2018, and is programming co-chair for the New England Poetry Club.