I climbed Blue Hill in predawn gloom
clambering through strewn piles of granite bone
almost by memory, to claim my watchtower
perch, and just in time to stand and mark the cold
gray seam of Boston Harbor broke by Easter sun.
But overcast hung dense and low, light strained the murk
to smudge a brief and sorry swath of tepid pink beyond
the outstretched hamlet arm of Hull relaxing in the bay,
and in its resting civic fist the windmill, still,
and vague in slow-attenuating light. I’d seen enough.
On my descent, I passed a fresh and jarring blow-down,
trees snapped off by winter’s recent violence, slanting through
the trail. One fallen trunk I stepped across, thigh-thick—
I didn’t count its rings, but surely they were fewer
than my fifty-eight accumulated holidays. And I was struck—
I’d crouched right here, sometime before this broken tree
had ever taken root, my brother Brad and I,
in shorts and Keds, just laughing, out of breath
so sure we’d shook our lagging Daddy down the trail.
Brad’s nine years dead. My father lives, too frail
to hike these granite slopes again, and I
turn down to trace the glaciated contours in this stone
still gray, but less so now, under the rising day, yet
always gray, across the years excoriating gray.
Robbie Gamble’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Scoundrel Time, Solstice, Slipstream, RHINO, and Poet Lore. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry prize. He works as a nurse practitioner caring for homeless people in Boston.