Make the journey and leave me where
I started. It’s all I will ever ask.
We went to lay you to rest in the
the Colorado mountains—
between your Grandmother and mother,
alongside past generations in the family plot-
the morning mountain air we wore in our
bones, our shoulders hunched around our ears.
Our heads cast to the ground watching for your footprints
march across on the damp wild hillside grass
where you once ran barefooted along the trails between
houses, calling out to your tribe of cousins,
sister and brother, who blindly trailed behind;
reckless and free you were staying out nights
until the dawn rolled with grace over the tips of the canyon.
I was happiest there as a boy. You always said.
Your soul we knew took flight
but this promise we kept and traveled from
our home, returning you—now ashes, in
a small silver box—to your first home. We climbed
the side of the mountain at dawn
and plowed the soil, taking turns with shovels
and hoes to burrow a resting place for your final home. We patted
the ground, leaving you covered with rich red
earth, where crops of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, melons
beets and pumpkins once grew alongside
the wild choke cherry vines and Piñons, you loved so well.
I tilled the soil in the canyon hillside as a boy. You said.
At your grave, we left calla lilies
gardenias, even butter-yellow
roses, and listened to Billie Holiday
playing on your old cassette player, praying
Billie’s hypnotic torch of a voice sent
the rattler’s scrambling, while we waited—
remembering—watching for a sign of you.
Music cures a heart broken by loss,
love, and life; listen to the morning songs
of dawn and give way to the rise, these
words of wisdom, the last gift you gave.
At sunrise, in the dewy mountain
air is when God’s footprints are oft visible
on the blades of grass.Your last words
the morning your soul took flight.
I was working on the new WIP this weekend when I got stuck in a moment I couldn’t write myself out of. I turned to music for relief and inspiration. Music has a way of centering me when I can’t. A song rolled around on the jukebox and kidnapped the last of my awareness. The song remembering when, took the two of us went time traveling. We stopped in Longs Canyon, Colorado. It’s where we left my Dad’s ashes.
It was the perfect moment to revisit. I’d been writing and rewriting a scene that wasn’t working for me or my character. About the instance the song rolled around I had decided to leave the scene unfinished–something I never do–and keep writing. The kidnapping, although unexpected and heart pounding, was exactly where I needed to be. I recalled my moment in the Canyon and remember thinking I’d never make it out of that moment either, but I did.
I started writing after the song returned me to my current reality. The poem has nothing to do with my story, but the writing released the shackles from my scene and I finished the chapter with ease. I remain perplexed by poetry but I continue to find pleasure in crafting a story in less than a hundred lines.
Are you ever surprised where you land after time travel?