Poem: Sacrament



by Anne McCrady


Late January until early March…

like the toss and roll of a ship,

the weather comes in fits and lapses;

winter’s end and spring’s beginning.


These are the days of hold on,

of needing and wanting,

of waiting it out.

If there is an end-of-the-year,

this is it.

The intermission.

Nothing doing.

The Sabbath season.


A planner and grower,

he lived for these weeks.

Seed catalogues.

Garden sketches.

Fertilizer formulas.

Like a prophet

tuned to a private voice,

before the first retreat of cold,

he felt the spring coming,

and, with it, another chance

to please God.


Each year in March,

on one sunny afternoon,

it would be time.

A man embracing an old friend,

he would scrape away leftover vines

to stir the soil with his shovel,

then face the wind

and stand and cry.


Perhaps it was the smell

of under-earth turned over

by a spade just now remembering

the split of dig and throw,

or of fresh bark, still asleep and whole,

yearning for the nudge of new stems

and the weight of infant leaves.


Maybe it was just the feel

of his feet cradled in the dirt.


From inside the kitchen,

they would watch him,

their little faces lined up,

chins on the windowsill,

as he sobbed

until, exhausted, he fell

into the rocking rhythm of his shovel:

stab and twist and throw,

stab and twist and throw.


Turning, she would smile

knowing they have made it

to another year.


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