Cold water gurgled down my uphill path. 

I chose my steps along a spine of granite rocks

amid the muck and spongy hemlock cones.


I was hunting spring magic—stalking yellow

willow wands, sharp skunk cabbage spikes,

or frogspawn—when the sight of leaves stopped me.


Pale as parchment, large as human hands,

they had hung on the sapling

through four months of stormy snow.


The tree appeared to be in full flower

until the wind blew its death-flutter—

and I could breathe again.

first published in Ellipsis