after the fields frosted white
and the sun’s gaze slanted sideways at life,
the last geese left for the season.
It seems you’d seen a hundred summers
fade from green to gold,
grapes ferment to wine
beneath the sun of another century,
days when the world promised you
pink stars to wish upon,
when a river of hope
ran through the pith of your heart.

Last night,
rising from my hammock of dreams,
wandering to the edge of the woods,
divine in a halo of moonlight, you stood:
moss-covered feet, cool juglone
oozing through your limbs.
I prophesied
you’d weather all but the storm to come,
words that pierced the night
like heat lightning,
sent the syllables circling like storm clouds
before surrendering
to the inevitable gravity of rain.

Next autumn,
another wedge of geese
heads south towards the horizon.
Raindrops weep upon the windowpane
that framed your silhouette against the sky.
I wonder now
whether it’s too late to tell you
I miss the boughs you once extended over the barn,
the stars that glittered between them,
as if you had always intended
to shelter us from harm.

Writing her first poem at the age of eight, with only one poem published in college, Irene’s deep appreciation of nature and interest in conveying respect for the natural world through poetry continues to inspire her to write.