Chose the site from the trail
through eye-wide leaf-slits
in trees, the slope too steep for all
but deer, talus-strewn, leaf-slick.
Walked and stumbled
then settled, clearing detritus
trees drop — leaves, nut shells, wind-
thin shavings of bark.
Then strewed you, wistful dust,
with handfuls of lavender
and yellow rose, tobacco shreds,
and amber beads of whiskey.
Your ashes, wan as egg-shell,
color of smoke and pearls,
were stick- and leaf- paper- thin.
Stick and stone, you cannot hurt me now.
Poor stitch in time, poor voice pitched
at emptiness. You’re barely dust, a flour
of femur and tibula, of skull-bowl
and knuckle-knot. Worry can’t itch you now.
We drank shots, rested. Then crawled
and hauled selves uphill, trees
for purchase — live-oak, poplar —
toward the trail. My daughters,
deer-legged, sure-footed, ran uphill,
Caught myself slipping,
swung one arm round
pin-oak bole almost parallel
to the steep. Could not
get round or let it go. Hung there,
mother boulder, too round and fat
to haul uphill. Rested, thought.
The tree took my weight. I shrugged, turned,
looked up. Saw — moss-tinged,
birch-white — a rope-thin
poplar branch just feet uphill — no,
a rope like a branch — suspended, in air.
This grace, this lost lasso or
trail tow, some cowgirl or
hiker willed us, a hope, a benison
like a girl’s stout braid,
My angel, my rapunzel.