Springtime, the final week of
March, but shivering at the garden
gate, its hinges frozen shut, I push
open the heavy planks and fresh snow
tumbles from pickets, lands softer
than birds on the white backyard.
Where summer roses climbed,
now stretches a trellis of gray
and cracked cedar, each
crotch in its diamond pattern
glassy with ice, as is the
crisscrossed wooden niche,
beneath which, on a pedestal,
stands the Virgin Mary, her arms
entreating wrens and sparrows
who leave footprints etched into
lingering drifts—like mute complaints,
haunting as hieroglyphics.
Her chalky gown cascades to
toes; her mantle, barely azure,
eroded from years outdoors, is like
the faith I long ago abandoned;
in May I once wore blue and white,
when chosen by the priests as Mary’s child.
Now weathered stone, her face
faded, drained of emotion, no color
to accentuate her brows, cheeks, and lips,
she seems the patroness of an eternal
winter or the struggle to survive,
as I toss bread from my pockets.