Mountains and Memory

for my friend

The first time you were
yourself was in the park, in spring:
magnolias, mossy rocks.
Turtles in the pond, flat-backed
and baked with sunshine.
We ate greasy burgers with fries.
Your mother was dying.
I do not remember what I
said about it. We threw
pebbles in the water to watch
how quickly they might sink.

I live somewhere else now. We meet
in the mountains, the year
ending. Your grief shaped
differently, but still it is the first
thing I can see about you.
A stone under the surface,
distortion shrinking its size.
We walk in silence up and
around the peak. There is
no need to talk.
So we look and listen:
paper birch and wind chimes.
A seesaw rusting alongside
pickups and yard cars.
I have always loved the mountains.
Their decay too slow to matter.
It is always spring there
with rushing water and
dogwood in the vale.

A lie, actually: I know what I
said that day in the park.
I will not repeat it here.
Only that I remember other
days there too, with wide
Carolina skies and grass damp
after a morning rain.
Those days are much quieter
but they exist too. I will help
you pull them to the surface.
Hold them up and say,
look what we caught.

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