I Cannot Return - Poem by Adeline Foster
I CANNOT RETURN
I cannot return,
For all my need, for all my want;
The best of all I’ve ever had
I want to give to those I love-
The best cannot return.
The best is gone; the best is strange,
Foreign to those who were not there.
And yet they live within me still,
Memories I want to share.
Running barefoot through the frost,
That barefoot child today is lost.
Blueberry marshes and succulent fruit,
Worth the scratches on leg and foot-
The taste remains.
Thunder storms and hail-sized drops
That bounce on pavement curbs,
Purple Martins peeping from a hole
Neatly carved in a telephone pole,
Starlings nesting under the eves,
Hauling logs behind a team,
Walking the pole line, a day’s full walk-
Night is falling before we get back.
Lazy clouds on a summer day,
And oh! -the smell of new-mown hay,
Sand-pit hills, impulsive slides,
Raking hay and stacking stooks,
Never hurried, but firmly pushed
Through steady work that must be done.
An hour to lay upside down
On top a haystack in the sun,
Wild cucumber vines and columbines;
Strawberry picking one by one-
Mustn’t eat or you’ll never get done.
Butter sloshing in the churn-
Food-of-gods on bread at noon,
A whip-poor-will calling in the gloom;
And through it all time to reflect
Under the stars.
Northern lights and shining drifts,
Icicles forming in our hair,
Leading sheep out through the snow-
Single file on the path we go.
Early morning, lambs are birthing-
A joyous thing to see.
Bitter cold and the dark of night-
All of these are part of me.
Brittle wood in the cold of spring,
The bite of the ax and a hollow ring,
An hour to rest that because it’s there
Seems to stretch into a year.
Scripture reading and singing hymns,
Sunday walks, we know not where,
Dewdrops on a spider’s web,
A breathless moment to stand and stare,
Riding the horse to the county fair,
The river rushing down the sluice,
Hopping booms in secret fear-
Leisurely moments of youth.
Scot’s thistles blooming majestically
In a field nibbled close by lambs.
Daisy chains and trailing wreaths;
Wintergreen berries in melting snows.
Playing marbles in the spring-
Never pout if you didn’t win.
Bouncing balls off a wall:
Ordinary, moving, laughing, talking,
One hand, the other hand,
One foot, the other foot,
Clap front, clap back,
Clap front-and-back, back-and-front,
Turn-about, and under she goes.
Memories I cannot share-
I speak a language no one knows.
Acceptance of each day I lived-
All of these I cannot give.
They can return no more.
Memories of Life in the Far North
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