Talking to a Friend
Tonight I recall all I have come
to know, my knees bent over a hilly,
hushed grave. The mound endures
the cataclysm of stars whose light
reaches the earth in a cold study,
sifting through clouds and hungry
reaches of seeing and knowing.
My life is a thirsty dream,
How did I come to know death
so well that I can stand
over it and pray? My friend’s grave
is a cacophony of voices.
Grief groans through sleepless nights,
nights to come, nights when the wind
Stirs a candle’s flicker, nights
seen through a window, nights witnessed
through distance no one can cross.
My friend is still Mountain-Man Jim,
Ax-Handle Jim, Man-Child Jim, Mule-Hide Jim.
The earth around his headstone is as loose
as living skin after a life of labor. I speak
to the silent gestures of wind in the pines,
pouring myself into loneliness I have known
my entire life.
There is nothing in these moon-wide reaches
that is not mine. I listen to the distant traffic
speak of the years I have buried.