When you think of her one day,
say, twenty years after you last saw her,
and you had heard she let her hair go
snow white at age forty-something
and you wonder if she’s still working
and how old the twins are now.
When you discover a trail the same day
that you didn’t know anything about
and it leads you across a grassy marsh,
its salty mud flats, and a lagoon
ruffled with ducks and great blue herons
to where you’ve never been before,
and you’re surprised to see a house
that sits relaxed and bra-less on that east
edge of the canyon like an aging hippy,
and you recognize it’s hers.
When you’re suddenly out of breath
and you want to rest on a trail bench,
and then you see her name carved
on the redwood back slats of the bench,
and you can’t sit there.
When you also make out the inscription
“Loving Wife, Mother, and Friend,” and
“Sweet Dreams,” and
“See You Over the Horizon.”
And you shiver, and wonder if it’s all just random—
the thought, the path, the house,
the bench, her name, her death.
And what was silent about life
speaks to you sudden as a breeze
through the bullrushes,
and then for a moment you stop.
You listen past the cottonwood trees
and arroyo willows and a red-tailed hawk
for a wind that calls above and beyond
any canyon rim.
And when you arrive home at twilight
you are smaller than when you left.