“The Ukraine crisis is something we don’t want to see.”

—Xi Jinping

A slant of light on a winter afternoon
Illumines a two-foot pine sapling
I forgot I planted at the lawn’s edge.
In my mind’s eye: I accept from
Someone’s hands the tiny tree,
Roots swaddled in a plastic bag.
I transport it from somewhere
And plant it at home on the Vineyard,
Heaping soil around the base, then
Forgetting about it until a ray of light
Points to a tree tall enough for me to see
From the windows of my study.

How could I have forgotten
Its provenance—the who, the why,
The where? How my heart goes out
To a seedling growing untended
In the dirt. And how precarious
The angle of vision a trick of light
Restores, awakening memory.
Right now, the pine’s in shadow,
Blended into the background.
My heart jumps and I have to check
From other windows to be sure
I haven’t lost the tree once again.

Yet, how content I am in the coming
And going of things that come and go—
The red holly berries, the shadow
Of crows’ wings across the lawn.
How I can’t quite give up the (hopeless)
Longing that what I own—an old chest,
a silver teapot—will endure, and that I can
Discern in them the history of a past
That is present to us. I’ll wait for the light,
The shift in perspective, the answer
To the question: What are you not
Seeing when you are seeing what you see?