– for Gray
We share the most basic thing
given, granted, picked up
and passed back and forth
like a curious stone found
at the side of the road
on a long, uncertain journey.
Kept absently in a pocket
or placed in the mouth,
a rough wafer to cut
thirst, worried by the tongue,
our own or others.
Half a lifetime longer you’ve carried
yours, in and out of storm, staked claims
and seen the crops come or fail
to provide, the river rise and fall
in its stony bed, mountain firs
felled slowly wend their way back.
Taproots twist out of sight, gripping
what will hold them: bedrock, bones,
other seeking roots.
I look up from the sound of my own making,
startled by a flash of heat lightening. Sparks
will find their way into the dry places. In the yard
the shambling oak is lashed by wind coiled up
with valley smoke and a hint of rain you know
the shape and weight of, more intimate
than I with the many names of fire.
It is some comfort.