Eight and a half years

since we dumped your ashes

beside a prickly pear cactus

up the steep desert trail

on the hill overlooking

the house where you suffered

so, rattlesnake country, where

Wendy and I had stepped carefully

around two big ones a month before

the diagnosis was made.  This year

was the first time I didn’t say

your name on your birthday,

kept the poison inside,

no X with a sharp knife, just

a shot of strong whiskey

to even out the pain. It’s funny

how the ash and bone looked

like part of the landscape,

a place for you to belong to.

I guess I know what it’s like

to be unquiet, to rage, to wander,

and maybe someday I’ll learn

what it’s like to sleep beside

the snakes when you no longer

can be bitten, to become mud

and dust and wind, to come to rest.



About Ray Sharp

Father, poet, triathlete, local public health planner
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