*For Cpl. Paul Madison Bowlin*
3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Div.
Echo Co.-1969 Vietnam

Wind swept hills of snow
flailed leaves of sugar maples,
revealing their silver undersides
scattered spent hickory flowers
in drifts, to erase stonewalls.

The sky blackened
and I could almost
hear the sound of sleet
alternately obsessive, self-conscious,
ruminative and proud.

How do I strike a
balance with you gone
between the need to create in
solitude and the desire
for human intimacy?

But then the wind
drops and the front
unravels over the
western ridge where
the storms come from.

Blue sky
a clear night threatens
and Venus
hangs peacefully in the dusk.

One day soon as winter advances
the woods will open up again;
this place, on earth, broken land
the dark edge of the stonewalls will be erased
and the frost will leave the ground.

Michael Evans-Smith March 2003