for Kevin

You waited three days after the gray fits and groans
of the superstorm to leave, as if its broken trees
had paved a woody path to bring everyone home,
and once gathered, could build you a swinging bridge
to step out over the gorge, sure-footed and certain
it would hold. How does an arborist leave without
first inspecting the damage: shag of sycamores
coating sidewalks, maples chest-cracked open under
a naked moon, old oaks dropping limbs in the dark?

We knew this wild storm would arrive. Some of us expected
a flattening of the known world, footprint of sawdust
where our lives had been. Instead, cyclone of light and dark,
beech and vetch, family and family, banjoes and your beautiful
wife by a pinesweet campfire. Maybe the wind was confusing,
every loved thing whipped into the life you lived. Then quiet.
Six hours after you left I open a Weizenbock made from waters
of the Brandywine as if I could retrieve one laughing hour
from that hop devil, golden monkey night in Downingtown
we gathered to launch you into the eye — you standing green,
braced for the bending and rising of any bloodstorm.

Deborah Fries began writing poetry in earnest in 1994, when she moved to the Delaware Valley from the Midwest. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq – work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of Various Modes of Departure (Kore Press, 2004) and anticipates publication of a second book of poetry, The Bright Field of Everything, in 2013.

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