March (Linda Pastan)

Friday, March 1, 2013

A cardinal is back in the tangled branches
of the maple. Edna always said "Red bird, 
cold weather," but it's March now, 
the buds already pinking on the camellias. 
Edna used to roll biscuits before she cleaned our house, 
singing "Amazing Grace" as she worked. 
When I sent the tape of a poem to a magazine, 
her song by chance on the flip side, 
they rejected the poem but asked 
if they could use "Amazing Grace."
She died last year, and now I think
her serenity was the flip side of sadness —
the grandson in trouble with the law; the daughter 
far away; so many rooms to clean. 

My father's birthday punctuates March. 
He would be a hundred and ten, and now
I'm three years older than he was when he died, 
so many things unspoken between us. 
This is the month for remembering, the light
so new it illuminates what we hardly knew we saw; 
Edna in the room downstairs, alone; 
my father wanting something from me
I didn't know to give. 
It's such a mixed-up month, one foot 
in winter the other in spring, doing a windy 
two-step from past to future; 
while outside the cardinal on the leafless tree
performing its own Amazing Grace
is either scolding or serenading us.


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