The Killdeer

We stopped the white Chevy with the rusted tailgate,
Half in the ditch, and walked up the hillside,
Through the pine trees and scrub oak, fall leaves
Like letters in an abandoned apartment cracking
Under our feet. There was nothing and everything
To see in the woods, the snake skin, coyote scat,
Half-hidden killdeer nest, muddy water of the hollow.
He pointed these things out to me, a child learning
to see from her father. We all learn
To see from the people who came before us.

You have walked in on that path, your own path
Holding the hand or following the steps or sensing
The direction of another with you—hand on yours or
The touch of their hand only a memory or a dream,
As the ground we walk on is real right now as we stand
On it, real as it holds us, solid as what makes us act
In the face of loss and love that is a memory. Inside
The memory is the earth that he walked on, the dust
That shaped her tracks, the past always becoming
The place that calls you and leads you away to life.

–Shaun Perkins

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