for my parent's fiftieth anniversary
In the old photographs, it is always autumn.
Colors fade to the sepia of remembered thought:
my mother in a flapper dress, my father
proud beside the Model A. They glow
in the light of dreams that I can never know.
What did they think of that autumn
they climbed into the photograph of bride & groom?
That love would conquer?—the Depression yield
more than its tart and scanty fruit?
In a season of scarceness, the bitter root
of her father's death fresh within the house,
they strode from the church believing
in sunlight—the prairie ringing for them,
the October trees all aflame with praise.
Good farmers, they knew how to raise
the future, a steady hand on each day's plow,
patience in the fallow fields, a table
big enough for all who'd need it, hope
in the seedlings, beauty's grace, a faith
that is the opposite of winter's death.
This autumn, I would take the color
of that triumph, the bright praise of trees.
the harvest secure in the heart's high bins;
I would make of them a portrait fit to hold
through time: these trees, these lives, this gold.