Mast Year

for Louise

by Deborah Murphy

Acorns fall from branches, tattoo the driveway and yard,
a mosaic of caps and stems and hard knots,
too many even for the squirrels and chipmunks
that dart across the lawn, race into trees.

When I was young, you gathered handfuls of stray buttons,
stored them in a quilted box. Brass and wood
for sweaters, small stars for my first grade dress.
Now the box sits unopened beside my bed.

This winter the squirrels will live on what they’ve buried,
an abundance that won’t outlast need.
And I will count you in seed pearls and tortoiseshells
pressed against my palm.