the trees of their valley home
fill out with the soft down of
newly unfolding leaves and
the hills, from heaven, must look
like they’re covered with velvety moss.
so she takes them walking in
the woods—her two boys and
that extra, the one who has always
been around. across the railroad tracks
to the three ponds—the place they used to go.
they no longer strain to hold her hand;
lag behind in their own conversations.
she carries a big stick—for bears; coyotes, she
says. and they talk about phone apps to
scare a bear away with noise.
in the middle of nowhere—a clutch
of daffodils. she wonders out loud if
there used to be a farm here before
the railroad came through. someone planted
these…placed each bulb with careful fingers, she says.
the sky is white through the trees and
she remembers the rat snake they saw here
once—at least five feet long and fat from a
swallow. they—so small—looked on and she
resisted the urge to scoop them up and run.
today, there is only one frog, a salamander,
and birdsong. they want to climb hills, into the trees
but the other—the extra—he keeps saying, my,
what an adventure!and she notes a slight tremor.
he has to be at tennis lessons by five.
she fingers her walking stick and wonders, when
did the woods become so frightening? she knows
she cannot keep them safe from everything. unforeseen
tragedy crouches in every shadow. but love is
the safest of shelters.