the spring house

The Virginia meadow stretches out and rises
in strips of treeshadow, and the bones
of a cherry grasp at passing blue. The last
of its leaves have long since found the least
circuitous route to the ground and melted
into the green grass and passing seasons.

There is always snow in the mountains
where the atmosphere clasps it to the peak,
but it can’t be seen from the meadow
where the spring is protected.

The springhouse leans the way all abandoned houses lean
the way all the trees that cling along a coastline lean
the way clothes pinned along a clothesline lean
when put out to dry.

All places have their prevailing winds, hands
that direct the flow of things, and over time
they push everything a certain direction.
The snow capped winter melts and moves to the valley
whenever it is warm enough, and flows within
the bleached oak boards of the springhouse.

A ladel, blackened from the elements, dangles from
a rawhide noose looped about a wooden peg. The
weathered door creaks as my hands pull it open.

The water inside is flat and the round bed stones
beg for fingertips. I lean forward, reach
with the ladel, and hear his voice from years ago
when his hair first turned white, his strong hand
on my shoulder, “Don’t let the bottom fool you,”
he says. “It’s deeper than it looks.”

I drop a pebble and it suspends itself somewhere
between transparent surface and clear rock bottom
before drifting away in the current. The water
is cold and deep and swift. It tastes like winter.

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