Tennessee winter

Tennessee winter

     from The Perfume of Leaving

River slices the gorge, rock stacked
like beehives on both sides of the bank. 
Icy water spills from mountain top,  
and we pause to seek the sun, pale and high, 
between branches scraping winter blue.

Day lengthens but we don’t speak,
hike instead through crisp leaves
and withered apples, snow capping  
everything woolly white.

You empty your pack by pine–bristled outcrop,
boots steady on the edge of stone.
Never glancing at me, you unseal and tilt
the jar. Sharp wind tears at our backs, 
steals ash and bone, flings it into the void.