Depart/ed — A Dream

“Road” — C.Birde, 8/20

As in the way of dreams, two realities –

he has died;

he walks, straight and tall, beside me.

In death, two versions, also –

the one, all six-foot-tall of him rolled on his side

and bent in awkward, fetal curl,

hooked in blue-tinged dark to chirping, electric machinery;

the other, seated on ivory leather couch, in sunlight drenched,

a shotgun gripped, tripod-like, between legs and knees;

his long toes feel and finger the trigger’s curve.

In both cases, one consistency –

he is alone.

And yet,

and yet

Together we walk this long road of soft pale soil

that uncurls toward the huddled town below.

As that unknown hamlet slowly resolves,

he tells me of his death,

his dying;

of the messages he left for her

– the youngest –

to find.

Clues.

Scrawled in small, cramped hand on slips and scraps of paper,

neatly folded into white envelopes to be opened

– one each year –

on his death day’s anniversary.

We walk together, he and I.

I hear his voice — a rasp against my ear —

and the ocean’s waves that break themselves

against gray sea walls.

And, as in the way of dreams,

though separated by time, location, distance,

I see her

– the youngest –

in open room full of soft-lit windows;

see her lean against that same couch of ivory.

Though separated,

I see her finger run beneath an envelope’s flap and

break the seal.

Excitedly, she reads;

while he and I reach the outskirts of that sleepy town.

Here, the air smells of salt and sea.

Here, the wind finds my hair, my cheek.

And here, undeterred, he walks beside me;

but no longer does he

speak.

— C.Birde, 8/20

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