Milky sky. Something’s warming
the air. Call it
an encouragement.

Scars and red buds shimmer
and shiver. Call it
a parity in the trees.

A warm spot on the wrist
where milk dribbles. A warm spot
on the shoulder where Baby burps.

Father burps and empties
another Bud. What’s he doing
home? Winter lingers

north of White River.
Squalls off the Green
Mountains bury the snowbells,

the green, tow headed tulips.
The breast goes dry. The pump suctions
nothing. The milk’s Formula. Father says

it’s a deep refusal in her body.
Mother says something’s changing
inside the light. Washed out,

she dreams of a seacoast’s summery
haze. Flat stomach. Flatter
ing remarks. Absently,

she shakes the pink rattle.
Father slips pjs blue baseball ones
over Baby’s head. Spring training’s

a winnowing, a weaning. Someone breaks
an ankle. Someone strikes
out. Someone steals home.

Father cheers the cable sports,
the little men on the screen
Baby’s eyes see as unresolved

pink and blue. Father eyes
the rattle heavy as a dumbbell
for Baby. Will he ever

pick it up? Or the naugahyde
glove nearby. And not far off,
a Little Leaguer’s wrist

snaps as he slides into second.
Father’s running onto the diamond
to sweep up in his arms

his son. Father sees it, sees it,
as clearly as the homers
off the fungo bat.

Already Baby’s his Father’s son.
Mother shakes the rattle, tosses it
into the toybox. Outside the pink

buds have iced and stiffened.

Neil Shepard has published three books of poetry: Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat (First Book Award, Mid-List Press, 1993); I’m Here Because I Lost My Way (Mid-List, 1998); and This Far from the Source (Mid-List, 2006). His poems appear in literary magazines such as Boulevard, Harvard Review, New England Review, North American Review, Ploughshares, Paris Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review, and Triquarterly, as well as online at Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. He founded the Writers Program at the Vermont Studio Center and directed it for eight years. He now teaches in the low-residency MFA Writing Program at Wilkes University (PA), and he is the long-time editor of Green Mountains Review.

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