Two Poems

Bill Griffin

Close-up of a black cherry tree trunk. The trunk bisects the image diagonally from top left to bottom right. The trunk is rough with scaly brown bark. The background is out of focus, a blur of pastel blue, yellow, and green.

Photo Credit: Katja Schulz/Flickr (CC-by)

The Physicist

When we clean out his closet,
makeshift, narrow window, once
a back hallway,
we discover ivy has explored
each chink in the ancient sash & sill
and pale leaves still share his space,
not unwelcome, not banished,
brushing our shoulders as they did his,
but he is gone and they
grow brittle, it being winter for us all—

we wish we could wait for spring,
listen to the vines explain
in their fresh twining voices
how on cold mornings he stood right here
buttoning up his flannel shirt
but never alone, particles and wave functions
always whispering
to him in their relative twining voices
that he would translate on legal pads
into equations like vines
that hold everything together; he longed
to share it all with us
but more often he would lay down
the yellow paper and he himself
simply reach out to hold us
all together.

A few photons seep
through the dusty window.
We are with him here
in the universe.


Black Cherry

We found the snapshot a month after he died—
in the pale photo Jeff holds a shovel, leans
to rest his hand on Jodi’s shoulder
where she kneels to hug their little girl
still a toddler.
That shovel—
was he using it to bust up turf
for tomato vines and beans? Digging clay
for his wheel and kiln? The ink fades;
so shall our memories.

While a little color yet remains I imagine
this—he’s planting a tree,
so like him, something new to stand bright
among the dark trunks that frame the three of them,
a black cherry,
and today that girl
tries to circle both hands around its girth
while pink blossoms bless her hair.


Bill Griffin is a naturalist in rural North Carolina, USA. His poems have appeared in NC Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry and elsewhere; his ecopoetry collection, Snake Den Ridge, a Bestiary, unfolds in the Great Smoky Mountains. Bill invites you to discover his microessays, photography, and a hundred Southern poets at Griffin Poetry. Email: griffin.poetry[at]