Sadness runs deep, rises like flood water
to quench the Forest fire. Roof beams torched
to falling ash. Like grace notes, statues, rose windows
deny conflagration. Arches hold. Vigil candles
flame steady, soft – ceremony spills over stone.
“Salve Regina” rises from the blackened ground
to a burning sky – watchers chant, old notes
Of faith, hope, love hovering over the square,
as we have sung to rest our sighs and mourning
outside the White House iron railings.
Halfway to the angel fountain along the line
of green benches, we sat almost every morning,
backs to Beacon Street, facing the pond, content
to talk and watch our children tricycle or dig.
We took for granted they were secure
in our care. Of course. The angel fountain
stands tall at the far corner of the Garden
flanked by two bronze dolphins that spout
over her pool, their sides burnished
by all the children who have ridden them.
Last week in the evening I stopped at the bench.
Blue sky over so much green, irrepressible
old trees. Leaf shadows trembled on the path.
Across a spread of grass, the duckling statues now,
heads shiny where so many little ones have sat.
And still, fathers, mothers, babies in their packs,
or pushing strollers, catching small runaways.
Easy together. On the pond, ducks call each other.
Swan Boats paddle slowly, round the island to pass
under the bridge, return to their landing place.
The Garden, oasis still from war, assassination, cruelty.
Today, the path to the angel fountain stretches far from here.
Ailsa Kennedy Steinert