The voracious sandpit of my youth grew
until it devoured the old apple orchard,
it cannibalized a fieldof swaying grass off Phillips Road,
consumed tall pines from an abandoned Christmas tree farm,
swallowed the path through the birches up a hill at Whitbeck’s Pond,
then vanished the hill.
Convoys of trucks harvested gravel out of the sandpit,
cracked macadam on Philipps Road that led to the highway
delivering loads to construction sites
on both sides of the Hudson River.
Gone is the place where I walked
hidden in morning mist,
the deep grass a tumbled blanket of green water on land.
Gone the hunter’s steep path
where birch leaves fell like gold snow in autumn.
Gone the pine trees I climbed to nest on top,
swayed by wind-song of pine needles brushing together,
where I inhaled black sap that tarred my hands.
We played war in the pit with boulders
while swallows flew out of round holes in the sand cliff,
ice age rocks made the round cannons we rained
on kids sheltered behind the stone walls they stacked.
Wild we were in the long ago sandpit,
what remains is as alien as a passenger pigeon.
Flat sterile land dissolves happy childhood images
like ice rubbed over salt on skin,
oh how the red sores sting.
When the snow stops
I sit inside like a cat on a sun-covered chair,
stare out my window, and see splashes
of red, black, and gray visit the sunflower feeders.
Colors flash against bright white.
Feathered orbs decorate bare tree branches,
the birds puff in balls like blow fish against the frigid cold.
Wind lifts and shifts clouds of flakes through the air,
sculpts drifts across the hillside.
Waves of cornfield stubble settles in corrugated lines
and a long march of tree shadows stretches eastward toward evening.