We climb the mountain trail winding
above her beloved childhood village,
a home she left sixty years ago, but now returns
in the precious urn we carry, passing her
amongst us as we switchback up the peak,
lessening each other’s burden in solemn silence.
We scatter the ashes along the ridge, new growth
obscuring the village below:
cypress and black willow welcome our lamentations,
their branches bowed in prayer
as the green grass swallows her, consumes our grief,
and we wonder:
what will grow here in the years to come, the loam rich
in her essence, her memory.
As we process down the mountain, our steps lighter,
our cheeks furrowed with tears, we note
foxglove, bluebells blooming along the path
as a Hermit thrush lilts an elegiac song.
Shelly Jones, PhD (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @shellyjansen.