“Death is not anything...death is not...It’s the absence of presence, nothing more...the endless time of never coming back...a gap you can’t see, and when the wind blows through it, it makes no sound....”
The Minnesota morning light hides behind clouds
as we walk upstream, avoiding ankle-deep holes.
Minnows school in shifting lucidity—
pulsing and pounding and shaping,
they fist-form and burst
into sixty or seventy fluid slivers.
We cross the gravel bar,
no longer caring about the deer
nor the beaver swimming behind us.
Not this trip. Your hand
in my hand, you take each step
like walking in oversized slippers.
Out here, we know it well,
where Crappies and Perch are abundant,
where Great Gray Owls and Black-billed Magpies fly by,
and where we would come to escape life
in the city. We stand by the water’s edge.
The light current might make
you stumble. Your reedy legs,
once so suited for this land, for swimming,
are now egret-thin.
Now and then we stop. Rest is rote.
Dragonflies, like buzzing syringes,
wing through the summer air. Wasps and bees
needle everywhere. It is too humid and late.
Your shadow writhes below
in the wavering water.
I rub your thin belly, circular
and slow, to ease the aches.
I remember when we were here last:
your long Chippewa-hair, wet,
sparkle flung droplets. You half-laughed
and pointed at my nakedness.
We return to the copse,
veer back toward the path
where you can sit some more
and catch time near standing weeds.
I think about Homer’s fields
of asphodels. A breeze caresses us
but makes no sound.
You wonder why you are here.
When you stand, you grit your teeth,
hiss from the effort and pluck
a cluster of oval leaves and white flowers
from the rhododendron. You toss the foliage down,
down to the moss-covered rock,
shaped like Charon’s coins. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
swoops past us. My narrow eyes follow it into the horizon,
follow long after it is gone.
Return to Volume 2.5