Next Day

No stethoscope will help you
detect my grief. Carefully packed into
38 years and a day to measure
a deeply buried stolen blue

rhythm. Nothing borrowed,
no return to sender. Smoke
from Canadian wildfires
finally clears.

Her face appears
for a mere moment
each time I climb, reluctantly,
into a car. Then she’s gone.

A 22-year-old
voice I can’t hear
above the chainsaw buzzing
through a bright morning.

I understand clearing the lot
to make room to shelter
those in need. Still,
it breaks my heart

to expose that residual green
pulse of life in the elastic
branch that refuses
to be cracked.

A row of magnolia trees
brings aromatic shade
to the trail.
Suddenly, everything

in bloom. Her

laughter muffled,

then gone—


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