after Relative by Sam Gilliam
The sky washes over me, enticing,
bursting open with orange and teal,
a cleansing becoming more vibrant
from west to east. Soft, like a cotton
scarf I’d drape lightly over my shoulders
on a cool night, its ends fluttering—free,
unfettered. I can smell the storm coming.
Sweet, musky earth. Metal taste burns
my lips. Sediment. A change, inevitable.
For some, eruptions—colors bleeding
together, blot of black, subduction.
For, others, swells of peach, turquoise,
lavender, a stroke of yellow, autumn rush,
perhaps. I enter the sky’s conversation.
(on the anniversary of my mother’s death)
patches of snow,
then, as if
the first shoots
blanketing the yard
in a rainbow
I cut purple
irises for you
today, place them
in a vase
on the mantle,
against each other
in the glass,
petals falling down,
I pass the time counting
mile markers. US89, Big Sky,
Painted Desert to Zion:
then white crosses
draped with plastic
in the grass
along the highway.
I hold my breath.
A body remains
at rest unless that body
is in motion. The world
falls farther away
each day. Someone’s child
through this Navajo land,
sediment of manganese
and iron; their blood
and hair and skin
leach into the
as their own.
Descansos translates as “resting place” and commonly refers to the crosses erected at the site of a violent, unexpected death. Some consider the last spot the body touches before death to be sacred.
Susan Bucci Mockler’s poetry has appeared in the Maryland Literary Review, peachvelvet, Maximum Tilt, Pilgrimage Press, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, The Northern Virginia Review, Gargoyle, The Delmarva Review, The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Cortland Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Lunch Ticket, Voices in Italian Americana, and several anthologies. She teaches writing in Virginia and DC.
Image by William L. Farr, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons