To be Alive in Spring
for Vince Franceschi
In the garden he wore sky
blue. We sat with cups of water
waving up to the brim, and in our hands,
strawberries as big as apples. The bleeding hearts in bloom
six weeks earlier than last year, and red tulips
had appeared overnight. She whispered,
could you bring me his watch, and the wind chimes whispered.
Over the phone, bad timing, she’d told me, she’d told the sky,
kissed my hair warm with mothering lips,
laughed and said, he always called you “the kid.” Her watery
eyes I’d never seen before, I’d never seen before, everything in bloom.
His gold watch moved down her arm and rested at the palm of her hand,
at the glass patio table, holding my face in my hands,
the table where in summer I came upon him looking out at the yard, wisps
of black hair moving in the breeze, orange Tiger Lilies blooming,
she said, I believe the spirit goes up through the sky
and that it takes time, so he can still hear us—voices raw and wet
we tried to calm—he can still hear his name on our lips.
Tulip petals covered the streets, ripped up stems and necks of tulips.
I walked back and forth in the night, gathering petals into my hands,
whole flowers dropped to the streets, I held lightly, then tossed to the water,
making their death into a kiss for the river, into a wish, a whisper,
throw myself into the river, too—make me closer to the sky:
blossoms on top of blossoms, the fragrance of flowers everywhere, the scent of him blooming.
All at once, lilacs in white and shades of purple bloomed
on trees above the ground that was yellow and red with tulips,
their white and black centers swelling open to the sunlit sky,
touching each other’s legs, arms, backs, faces, our hands
open our mouths open our mouths whispering
his name: oh, oh—the window making the banana tree translucent, its blood water
said his name in the night, black wings of a bird came up from the water,
saw movement through limitless peace, saw the flowers of every tree in bloom,
everything new, “How will I start again,” whispering,
“I don’t want to start again,” with everything new, on her lips,
this pain in my chest won’t go away, takes her hands
to her breast, hearts really do break, and everything in the house has broken and the sky
has finally broken with water, letting fall the last of the tulips,
yellow and red blooms from bulbs he placed in the earth with his hands,
again and again, rain whispered in the garden, everything is still growing, to the pulse of the sky.