Stroll

by Jonathan Hazelton

    For my Mother
    Sept. 29, 1925 – Dec. 17, 2012

We say they pass away as if
Clouds scudded over distant hills
And disappeared beyond the trees,
Or, like flowers on a sultry day,
Petals fell like some scarlet flakes
Till only a naked stem stood,
And the beauty and the wonder is gone.

But she will always be feeding birds,
Or changing suet cakes for squirrels to climb,
Or walking in an open field
With a shotgun in the crook of her arm,
Or leaving dishes undone to walk
Stream side with fishing pole and can
Of worms she dug from the garden soil.
All these images are what prevail
Of the life she called her own
And I recall she went strolling
In lengthening shadows with the dog
When sunset darkened road and hill.
I’d watch her walk upgrade to the curve
And turn and disappear, nothing
Left but the empty road and shade.

Now this she’s gone again,
The house quiet with her leaving.
Glasses lined in neat little rows,
Chairs and sofas gathering their dust,
Though habit says she will be back
I know the road is further than we thought,
Winding toward the zodiac
Where shadows meet the evening sky
If I listen hard enough
I can nearly hear the sound
Of footsteps scuffling dust of the road
And the dogs collar jingling into
Distances of a journey that leads them on
Past the gate at the top of the hill
Which opens on fields and old dirt roads
That seem to roll on forever.