for Inger

It wasn’t always like this. For years I mourned you with sackcloth, stirring

the ashes with a stripped stick, broken from a tree I could not see. The sun returned 

warm as ever, but without you

my spring fell flat, pressed past summer and on into autumn by the avalanche I held

back. There was the occasional green shoot, a feathered flit. But I remembered you

with the tenacity of frog song, aimed for a heart in mid-leap.

That was years ago. They say time heals and I agree, except for the part 

about all wounds. Though blurred by seasons, they hold up their glass panes

just waiting to be cracked

or swung open. Today, in the early spring snow I found a bird, dead

and perfect, a tiny master of music and light. They call it kinglet, golden-

crowned by feathered flames. I thought of you

also stopped in mid-flight, crown on fire, loving this world 

the only way you knew how 

until you fell right through winter and out of spring, leaving us 

to bloom in another season. But the pressed flowers of grief remind me 

I need not seek a world without you

for every pane I throw open lets in a flash of wings and you

like sunlight, arrive again

perched among my branches to sing all of what you’ve seen, 

fanning every frog heart into flames.

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