by Kelley Aitken

I sometimes open my mouth and find my tongue
forms your phrases, unheard for months
but heard for years, comic (even cosmic) koans,
aural wallpaper of our shared life, never
a sincere phrase when a joke or
cliché would do.

Who knew
we’d end as we did in
the shock of the sudden
swerve off course and a too new vista
barren field without windbreak or cover
just the chain link fence around it
that I recognized from the year my father
died and life parted company from itself:
the past becoming, irrevocably, the past.
Me so divided from it.

Last weekend on a canoe and kayak ride
through the further channels
of Jack Lake my sisters and the kids kept
saying: “Look at the wild irises,”
though I corrected them,  soft-spoken
as you, wearing knowledge like a flag
around your shoulders—God!
you were your own country.

I’m landless, wordless
floating by marsh and bog mats,
I mutter, “flags,”
but the blue mauve flowers nestling
there like lovely throats have
no need of labels, at home with
short-term certainty,
quiet cove.

— from Juniper Volume 2, Issue 2