for Mary Wise Hughes
Originally published in Poecology V (Aug. 2015) http://poecology.org/issue-5/lutz/
Extra mothers to each others’ kids,
you and I have walked this land
of sweet soil before. Remember: we found
a jack-in-the-pulpit growing here
like an old friend with whom time
collapses to nothing: the joy!
And once we came when the wild dogwoods
floated their white sepals amid
the blooming maples, as if they came
from the same tree.
Though it was named after the calcium
that makes its soil so sweet,
our children had remembered Lime Rock for its clay.
So we brought them back to the streambank,
to where the water carves miniature canyons,
to dig and to play.
Today, as we walk through fall rain without them,
we talk about our aging bones, how acid leaches
the sweetness from them, how the calcium ends up
in the wrong places—bone spur, kidney stones,
deposits. How it might be that all we have to do is
walk tall and upright for the calcium to know
where to go to rebuild our bones,
as it has been doing all our lives,
the tireless heart sending it there.
Tireless, like our friendship, our hearts never rest.
How can our hearts need neither rest nor faith to pump
and pump, just some effortless will and grace?
Maybe they are resting, between each beat—
maybe it is as easy for hearts to keep pumping
as for me to love you, my friend.
You make it so effortless—never failing me, ever,
and always knowing where the deposits are needed,
always seeing, sometimes the obvious
(like I’m moving out after 25 years of marriage
and need a home)
or the invisible (I need someone to reach in
and pull me out of hiding)
or simply to go for a walk,
like when we search this land
for the rare flowers only sweetness grows
(dark crimson lady slippers hidden in leaf mold),
and we mother each other as we wish our mothers had
—that way we do.
And again I will tell you,
again and again until you know it,
how your heart is as sweet as these streams,
as clear to me as these streams,
which carve into the substance of the world,
banking the muddy clay out of which
our children will shape their lives.