He was still a young man
when he buried his first wife,
my father's mother,
at the top of a long country hill.
His steps would have been steady
as he climbed after her,
not yet burdened with the memory
of how she hated the place,
how she said it was so desolate
even God wouldn't want to visit.
Later, he would talk about the silence,
the empty air her laughter should have filled.
About the mournful, distant cry of cows
(the only genuine tribute).
How he must have stood there then:
feet planted in the near of her,
hands caressing her favorite flower,
his back braced against the early spring wind.
for the cloud to lift,
for her to say “Just kidding”
and take his hand.
Later, he would remember.
Her words would bloom before him,
wrapping themselves around his pain
until they had to grow together.
It was only then he understood,
knew what she wanted from him.
And he climbed the hill again
to chisel his stone name beside hers,
making sure she wouldn't be lonely
waiting for God to come calling.
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