POETRY by Fredrick Zydek

Praying While the Trees Are Bare

The first glint of spring is weeks
away. Except for a few tough-stemmed
brittle leaves from last year’s crop,
the trees are barren as old nuns.

They wait the resurrection of juices
slumbering like rare wines beneath
them. Right now they are no more
than sketches outlined against the sky.

Out by the witless willow, three fledgling
maples stand like stick children etched
against a background of gray and brown.
Do they know how much like my prayers

they seem in this winter of rough land?
After so many years of trying, I should
be able to utter prayers lush as evergreen
boughs, lavish as wreaths made of cedar,

opulent as aspen leaves glittering
in the bright of a Colorado spring.
How then do I explain the twiggy prayers
I muster in the direction of the Great I Am?

Sometimes my supplications are knotty
and gnarled as a weathered branch, fragile
as twigs cracking and snapping into their doom.
I must be like a tree–trust that my roots

are planted deep enough to sustain me
until Easter leaves the place of ashes,
lifts the lid of life from the sacred vat,
and sends baptism back into the veins.

Fredrick Zydek is the author of eight collections of poetry. T’Kopechuck: the Buckley Poems is forthcoming from Winthrop Press this year. Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn’t writing. He is the editor for Lone Willow Press.