For The Fallen by Walt McLaughlin

Amid bloodroot and trillium
beyond a patch of fiddleheads,
next to a brook
glimmering in sunlight,
lay bones bleached
as white as new snow,
beneath moosewood buds
bursting forth young and fresh . . .

I search for remnant ice
but it’s finished now,
leaving polypody and woodfern
stretching upward and free
after months muscled down
to frozen earth.

Mud yields with each step –
soft, black humus mixed
with half-rotten leaves,
giving rise to the countless
green spears of wild lilies
that will soon bloom
through the empty eye sockets
of an unlucky doe.

I do not swat the fly
whirling about my head.
Dried grass laments in the wind.
Chickadees chirp cautiously.
And the high-pitched peeps
coming from nearby wetlands
sound like prayers uttered
for the fallen.


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