He stands by the rock wall and roses,
stares across the valley at Northfield hills.
Sometimes, it seems, he just comes to cry.
Our driveway, house, lawn where he waits,
are on land clawed and leveled from rough
pasture that sloped uphill from his home.
Our garden, snug inside its fence, was
his back yard. There are visits from many
who once lived here, tugged like ghosts.
Some stay and wait for recognition.
I go out to stand with him. “I know the house
is gone, but I don’t have any other place.”
A hummingbird thrums past, lands
for sugared water on the red plastic feeder.
“What was that?” he calls out, astonished.
“You must have seen them when you lived here.”
“Oh no, they hadn’t come up with them yet,”
he says. We watch it drink and dart away.
I know what he means. Each year it feels
my eyes create the chestnut-sided warbler
singing all over this garden when I first
put its tiny body and its slender song
together. And every June the grief
of apple blossoms stuns me with departure.
I say, “Wait,” go inside, find the chipped
white aggies streaked with blue the soil
keeps offering, return them to their owner.
SCUDDER PARKER grew up on a family farm in North Danville Vt. He has been a Protestant minister, a state senator, a utility regulator, a candidate for Governor, a consultant on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and is settling into his new and ongoing work as a poet. He is a passionate gardener and a proud grandfather of four. He and his wife live in Middlesex Vermont. Scudder has had poems published in Sun Magazine, Vermont Life, Northern Woodlands Magazine, Wordrunner, Passager, and Eclectica.