The seventeen years between us,
that we have not let come between us,
mean I am going to die first.
I will abandon you, cheat you
of the groaning laughter in mutual aches,
the wrinkled telepathy
forged through a many-decades tangle
of conflict and conversation.
Whether the years after my death click away
like the tumble of falling dominoes
or crumble with a slow dignity
like the white ruins of ancient grace,
we know you will be left alone.
In the children of our children,
that you will know so much better than I –
if I get to know them at all –
I hope you will see a little of me
in their devotion to soft walks
on cold evenings in the valley,
holding your hand and enjoying the lingering
of their gray breath as it slides into twilight.
If they laugh too easily and too loudly,
let your head wag behind your smirk
as you cradle yourself in their roar –
the way you do now, whenever I bellow
in amused appreciation of this or that little thing.
Take them to Waterloo Park each summer
and help them find flat stones
for skipping across the shallow Santiam.
Splash with them ankle deep the way we did
right before we kissed for the very first time.
Pack them into the car and race the sunset
so they will know what we have come to know –
the sun descends behind Mary’s Peak each night
and, sometimes, sprays red across the sky.
Toe Good Poetry - November 3, 2011
Reprinted in The Houseboat (Featured poet No. 3).