Ponderosa and mountain bluebird,
scorpionweed, Mexican hat, the way water
tumbled down the side of the mountain,
the way the sky sat cradled between two peaks,
how an Abert’s squirrel scolded us
as we sat at the top of a wet meadow
to rest and eat. Bluebells, golden banner,
wallflowers, both of us. I wanted to trace
my fingers against yours, slow us both down
long enough to see if our hearts were coming
together. Instead, a meadowlark chorled,
and our gazes got lost somewhere in the distance.
Around us western wheat brushed against
itself, whispering secrets or promises,
and so I kept mine. I loved how you sat with stillness,
with quiet, how you came with shadows,
but not darkness, like the other person I love,
the type of darkness that lays like a quilt.
And when we hiked down, there was larkspur,
columbine, stonecrop hunkered against
granite and surviving against the odds.
Even then our days in those mountains,
were numbered, and we spoke of the future
like windfall fruit, so full of maybes, so afraid
of picking it up to find a wasp. And we watched
but never saw a fox in the meadow pouncing
on prey, or a bear or a wolf but once I was stalked
by a mountain lion I never saw and maybe the wonder
is our footsteps, our hearts, falling into sync.
I used to bike along the old highway,
past orchards brimming with apples,
past cornfields that shared secrets
with the wind, past barns that
boasted occasional horses. The air
would ruddy my cheeks and leave
my breath clouds, or the sun
browned my skin or the rain slicked
my face, my hair, ran in rivulets.
Rain was my favorite for disappearing
the fields, the orchards, the road.
Sometimes I stopped at the skeleton
of the church that burned out
years ago, took sanctuary among
the ruins. At the church, and especially
in the rain, it was easier to believe
in ghosts. One afternoon, shadows
already long, fields golden,
a bear wandered across the graveyard
becoming a meadow, and I had to
swallow the impulse to follow, to bury
my hands in its thick fur, to smell
its breath on my face.