Poetry Porch: Poetry


by Julia Budenz

February 15, 2007
In Memory of Billy Carr
September 16, 1944 - February 15, 2005

The bare boughs bear
The burden of breaking
Or protecting or nurturing
Brilliance of snow
Building a beauty.

The bare boughs bear
The bounty of buds
Of which the breaking
Is as that of daybreak
Filling a future.

I felt bare.
I felt broken.

It was a cold winter, and yet
It was already that kind of time
When snowflakes fall
Or snowdrops rise.
It was that indeterminacy,
That intermission of days
Between the solstice and the equinox.
Which was more palpable?
Which was felt more?

I felt tired.
I felt tried.

It was Saturday afternoon,
But that night I was not going out.
Mario, before returning to Rome,
Had bestowed upon me as triple comfort
A bottle of Pinot Grigio,
A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc,
A bottle of Schwarze Katz.
I would open one this evening
And slowly, subtly, sip just as much of this
As befitted, fit, one little glistening chalice.
Though it was getting late I walked to Evergood Market,
The ever Evergood,
Joy of the neighborhood,
Seeking a Golden apple
And an aureate slab of Muenster cheese
As further determined species of comfort,
Pleasant, simple, childlike, sure,
To add to that of the golden glass.
I grasped a splendid apple from its bin.
On its usual shelf no Muenster cheese sat waiting.
Did I really need it?

Was that then Billy laboring there?
Was he gently, attentively, serene?
Was he exceedingly, supremely, weary?
I did not know whether or which or why or how.
I suspected I saw the pride and the pressure
Of that proprietorship
Which was always also commitment
And generosity and service.

Yes, I hesitated.
Yet I interrupted his work:
Are you planning to cut some Muenster?
Was he? He did seem weary.
Was that the slightest sigh?
Was that the kindest smile?
He entered the penetralia,
The sanctum of immense refrigeration,
Of chopping blocks, of knives, of fresh clear plastic.
How long was the interval, how brief?
It produced my smooth consoling chunk of cheese.

I did not know
That this was a final encounter.
I did not know
That Billy Carr was dying.
I only knew
That he was helping me to live.

Snowflakes come down.
Snowdrops come up.
Memories come back white.
Memories come forth green.
The bare boughs must bear white, bear green.

Copyright © 2008 by Julia Budenz.
“Anniversary” is from Book Four, “Towards Farthest Thule,” of the poem in five books, “The Gardens of Flora Baum.”