with my Aunt Marilyn
I needed trees and a body of water.
In a nearby park, passed a contorted filbert,
a dawn redwood, a dragon’s claw willow
budding though it was only mid-December.
Saw a muskrat den on a pond,
a cardinal hop on a knot of tree roots
exposed in a creek bed.

On the way home at dusk
I drove up a hill
to hundreds of starlings
sweeping into the sky,
a synchronized rise,
velvet black against blue,
and I drank in the wave of beauty
along with the ache of soon losing her.