Onion Mountain Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, VA

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

where your brother’s remains

will be scattered, we light up and watch the ashes

fall into the valley. On lichen-rich

boulders we pass and inhale, while monarchs flutter

on, some, so stunned in the late afternoon

heat, only cling to the overlook

sign and fan their wings. Yet the need to fly

south overcomes the weight of sleep;

south, where in Jalisco they are thought to be

the souls of the dead.

Their return north, toward us,

is their moving on

from flesh to ether. This is where you will surrender

your brother: the point where two mountains collapse

into each other and the dead

wander by twice a year. This is where

you will always feel the awe of standing

on a wire with sky on either side

as innocent grass siphons

ash from the world and

wind pushes your face

closer to ground. The valley floods

with smoke; the sun drips down the mountain;

kudzu claims more land to its impassable bracken

and the wet wood smell of the earth

invites us in. Your brother: not yet

here but claiming it just the same,

the lichen his now, and the moss

swelling between stones we gently

unlatch to carry back home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014