Across the pond, bare branches of cottonwood
Are festooned with white egrets
Spare, elegant, fashionable,
A spire embellished to celebrate the end of winter

Then one by one, plumage spreads wide, necks stretch forth
Long legs launch, rising in lazy arcs,
Egret after egret wings off, disappears on the horizon
Each in its own direction
Leaving bare branches waiting
For aromatic green shoots to break forth

My mother called these poplars “sweet balm” trees
Emerging leaves release honeysuckle
Scent of spring–then burst into shimmering
Swirling, dancing, shining, laughing greenery
Exuding fragrance amid clouds of wispy cotton

Lodged in the branches of memory
Regrets spread their wings one by one
And lift off toward far destinations
As far as east is from west
Presaging perfume of revival

Branches lighten buoyantly
Green shoots of spiritual growth
Burst forth, enveloped in the
Sweet balm of forgiveness