Quick Spring

The ditches are flowing on Highway 11
along the border with Canada
Mounds of snow erode to grit,
The sky lifts immense skirts
into the bowl of heaven. Slowly
the sun pushes its way north.

Raymond has written a poem.
His class is gifted in poetry
but Raymond (absent the first day)
has put a white horse

“Galloping glory”
“Winter sufferer”
“Non-meat eater”
“Hay chomper”
“Baby maker”
“Friendly creature”

on the page. He writes

Come back soon.”

City-dweller, smart with words, I ask,
Did the horse bolt its traces?
It died, he says.
Raymond’s teachers
can’t quite believe that
Raymond the LD,
Whose older brothers
quit school, who lost his
favorite brother to a farm
accident and hasn’t
been the same since, Raymond
with no social graces
who can’t read his own poem,
Raymond did what?
The best in class, I hug
The paper to my breast.
Tell him, they insist, tell him.
Maybe he’ll stay in school.

For a moment, their faces radiant
they forget how hard it can be,
like the drying crust of winter
a sky rife with snow
a white horse, its outline
edging into oblivion—sway-
backed, head tossed yet
still sweet still visible
among a thousand
swirling words.