By Laurie Klein
Between the bridge and the river is the mercy of God. - Carl McColman
We hike in, not speaking.
This quiet rise, with its vertebral stair
of basalt and its buttercupped
skim of earth, beneath pines, seems
poised, to breathe you in. Mourners choose
places: a compass rose.
One last time
she reads to you, her mothering heart
parsed across ruled paper
drawn from the hip pocket
nearest her womb. The words
run. How else dare we companion
your leap? I cannot unsee
the familiar bridge, those boulders
below, the seduction of rapids . . .
Now the sack,
upended, in fitful swirls: unknowable
you, seared to grit and glint,
joining pollen sketched across soil.
What is this ache,
long withheld, but my guilty dodge
conjured by shame? I shied away
from your gifted, disordered mind.
For every step climbed, this day,
let my clothes go unwashed, my soles,
bared: ash, easing an instep,
in prayer, this graveled heart.
Laurie Klein is the author of Where the Sky Opens and Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. A grateful recipient of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred, she lives in the Pacific Northwest and blogs, monthly, at lauriekleinscribe.com.