Return To Richardson, Spring 1981

by John Haines

Somber now, the grizzly hills,
the lake water slack and gray
between the shore and candle ice.

I walk a path under birch and aspen
still leafless in this early April.
Another winter, old neighbors long
departed, and the pole bridge fallen.
I see underfoot, black in the rusty
soil, the leaves of a lost summer.


I remember: it was my hand on the axe
that cleared the trees from this path;
that turned and fenced the garden,
the same hand that split and piled
the cordwood, far back in a time
of grace between the Asian wars.

And I remember the two of us then,
after a long day's work in the hills,
quiet with a book between us, the lamp
turned, the title long forgotten.

Those words, read late in the evening,
the pages turned by this hand.
Your voice as you turned to sleep,
and our life like a boat set loose,
going down in the lighted dusk.


It is one more spring in the north.
Over the snow-patched land
a brown wind drives a late flurry
down from the granite ranges.

In this restless air I know,
on this ground I can never forget,
where will I set my foot
with so much passion again.

from Of Your Passage, O Summer