Bio Note: I am a retired community newspaper journalist living in the mountains of Virginia with my husband and two border collies. I’ve been published in, among others, the North Carolina Literary Review, on literary websites such as Streetlight.org and The Ekphrastic Reveiew, and won several awards from the Poetry Society of Virginia. Though I am well past retirement age, I am a relatively young poet, having just begun about eight years ago.
I saw it as we turned to go, a gray handprint on her son’s khaki thigh dust of a solemn ceremony wherein we prayed for her repose and everlasting life, holy of holies, ending with the scattering of ashes and tearful amens. Then, like gardeners shedding dirt or bakers clapping flour from chalky palms, we brushed our hands and turned to go, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, khakis into the laundry, where yesterdays are washed and rinsed, dried and folded before they are tucked away.
I’ve spent real time wondering what would’ve become of me had I chosen to live there, not here, said no, not yes, or trod any paths other than those leading to this point. In Sunday school they taught me it was all pre-ordained anyway, but that left me to wonder whether choices are choices at all: if options are simply an illusion carefully designed to convince me that I am in control, if even my doubts are a mirage, my devotion a delusion even the most zealous disciple could never claim to own.
With the Dogs in the Woods
They are canine docents for an arboreal exhibit I can scarcely behold. Four-legged forensic scientists, they parse the smallest iota of odor from sticks, leaves, or lichen, my archaeologists of scent. A paw print sends them into a frenzy, then demands they leave their own marks. On they race, noses down, logging a census of the past, unaware of those who’ll come behind: cautious wild things gathering evidence of our passing, sifting notes from the pungent polyphony in our wake.
©2021 Priscilla Melchior
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