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A Widow of Wild Dog Creek

Five years, and still the ash-trees and the ferns
Sound with his voice as I wind alone
Down Wild Dog Road, by the giant rock
We picknicked on, whose skin still burns
Under the slanting April sun.

Once more, I pause to watch his stallions cross
By the rock-shelf where the creek wobbles
Between dark roots and the water swirls.
They climb the steep bank, looking for grass.
This is the place, among these pebbles,

This is the place where I let him go:
I flung him away as one flings a dice;
In white handfuls I cast him loose
On Wild Dog Creek and watched him flow
Toward King Island, and the ice.

For months, an absence like a massive bell
Not ringing through a yellow daze;
I hated moonlight, the turning sky,
The bawl of lambs; hated the shrill
Cicadas drilling in the haze.

He was my music. I hear his words
In all the wildflowers when they flare
And wither in this lovely valley;
I hear him in the banter of birds,
In silence, and the glass-blue air.

He is so close today that I can smell him.
But the agony has gone, and the farm’s
My home again. What could I say
This morning, what could I tell him,
When I held my grandson in my arms,

When he turned his eyes on me and, in a flash,
I saw my husband, heard his laugh
As he gazed on every living thing.
I felt my husband rise from his ash:
We are his joyful epitaph.