The light is faint through the window and my body lies in the silence of morning. She has died, I know. Her brilliance faded into tendrils of weakness on tree limbs and broadsided homes. Her smile is absent on my skin. She has died, I know. I rise with feet hovering above the sea of neutrality.
They have come with her burial shroud, lacy and white, sheer muslin from stitched vapors in the crow’s beak. For once, they have nothing to say….just this once when I look for their clear calling across the meadow. She has died, I know. They have come as pall bearers now. I lift hands to sky asking questions; I stand willing and open for answers, however small. She has died, I know.
I know when the ladybugs swarmed the air in a scarlet wind weeks ago that time was closing in, but never imagined she’d really go. It was not urgent in my mind, but now the elders have lined up in their naked grace. She has died, I know. Their once flexible branches now stiff in her passing. They no longer speak to me. Why is everyone so silent? Why is there no more crying out in the night? She has died, I know. I lay my hand upon great trunks with rough bark feeling for the heat of their cores, but there is nothing.
She has died, I know. The path is covered in frost this mourning when I have come to absolve my disillusions of the world in her face. She would speak to me in the place where the paths crossed, where choices always come to be made. She has died, I know. “Mother” I call standing small with my own heart pumping in hand. I wait for an answer.
“Come quick into the light before it goes” they whisper and from the downy wings of sleep my blanket warmed body shuffles from the dark cave in my mind. She has died, I know. With my head hanging and solid, I find the door. Its metal is rude and real. I need not open it to know that truth is only meant for dreams. She has died, I know. The window tells me to go back from whence I came. There are no answers here.
In the night, I lie awake aware that maybe I have missed her in sleeping. My despair is fondled and molded into a new shape. It is warm and sticky on my fingers. She has died, I know. The night will not give me the answers. He is shrewd and keeps secrets. I count the breaths exhaled from my chest, waiting for something. She has died, I know.
I have counted 5,760 breaths, all of which whispered her name like a prayer. My body is suspended there momentarily until I go to the crossroads again. The goldenrod is gray there and the grass suffocated in thin white ice. The japonica will not even look at me; she has died, I know. I will wait until she comes. I will not move from this vigil. She has died, I know. The candle in my heart grows dimmer.
Sometime in the night my body collapsed onto the path. The pattern of rocks pressed sharply into my flesh, biting my cheek. She has died, I know. My nose shimmers with blue and I half wonder if I am still breathing. Have I forgotten to live while waiting? The thrush perches off in the distance. It calls me to waking, reminds me why I’ve come. Frozen hands push up frozen limbs from the ground. She has not come.
I have given up the wanting. She has died, I know. And by the window I sit more innocent than is understandable to me and somehow I am so empty I’ve become full. The rock pattern is still faintly indented into rosy cheek and I touch its outline. In it, I find the answer. Some grace of spirit has come to show me I am only human; I am real. She has died, I know.
Aleathia Drehmer 2009