melt in the spring-shrunk shadow
of my neighborís house, an old fellow,
no more than ten years past my fatherís
age, died before the thaw, quietly gone, the papers
and mail stopped or re-directed, window shades drawn.
Beside the sundial and garden bench where he sat one dawn
and I brought his paper from the box,
a quick detour from morning run, and stopped
to chat, a vernal pool shivers with an April Foolís Day
breeze, and two robins pull chilled worms from mud. He stays
alive and absent here, as if he has only
just stopped speaking. Passing, I hear the cry, phoebe!
the first this spring, perhaps last summerís bird returned,
or her descendant, her hatchling, or some other traveler,
to nest beneath eaves of hollowed
house, birth life, depart, and on promise of melting snow,