Winter of 2023


                                           to Ursula

Children are again being slaughtered

in our world; we chew on the most bitter grief
the way rubble-dust will cinch the palate
tight; we live in an unfinished universe, obdurate hearts

averse to learning. Here, in the rare stillness of the house, you
are absent; the earth lies taut
in deep winter, and the moon, high in mid-morning chill,
is an almost translucent white; beyond the hedge, acres

of shorn barley stretch like a sepia desert
where rooks forage for grain; a pigeon in the back yard
pecks for seed while the strangeling puppy
sniffs through frosted grasses, searching, to find his place;

I miss the small gladness of prayer; by the window I watch,
as one unused to tears, waiting for your return.


John F. Deane





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