When you leave it will be empty:
dried leaves on gray-haired limbs,
clumps of gooseberry minus the berries.
Tracks across frozen water will lead
to a frigid channel,
springs seeping away from the source,
snow-covered hills reminding us
of the rolling, frozen sea.
The sun, low and yellow,
will not thaw any ice-covered bridges,
all slipping and falling,
no turtle miraculous emerging
from the snowbank to save me.
When you leave it will be all deer track
and rabbit scat, decayed leaf and prickly ash,
evidence of frantic digging.
Brush continuing a slow choke
over the disconnected sandbar,
little bluestem fighting back.
When you are gone it will be indelible
as a leaf fossil in ice, brief, no answer
in the night to the call of your name,
morning minus the light, forever
From In Our Very Bones (A Slow Tempo Press, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.