To Grandmama (1929-2014)

A few evenings ago, somewhere in the Bridger Mountains of Montana:

A wind sweeps gently through the aspen leaves,
the sound soothing, the fluttering soft,
then suddenly crescendos into an almighty rush
as the air surges through untold leaves,
shimmering and dancing like flames.

Higher up the mountain, the rut calls of the elk herd echo
beneath the swaying lodgepole pines,
deep, resonant roars followed by high pitched bugling.
A blue jay perches on a wooden post nearby, alternately rattling and chirping
as two bobcats dart across the path a few hundred feet away.

It is breathtaking,
and I turn the warmth in my heart toward the sky.

Native American legend has it that in these majestic moments
when you’re filled with the wonder of something larger than yourself,
it’s your ancestors reassuring you that they are far from gone.

It could have been you and I hope that it was,

because I could feel the soft touch of your hands tickling my neck as a little girl,
and inhale the sweet scent of gardenia as you held me when I needed to remember what unconditional meant,
and hear the contagious trill of your giggle that sent us both into gasping, shrieking fits of laughter.

It could have been you, and I hope that it was,
because you would love these yawning hills,
the flux of autumn yellows spreading across the valleys,
murmuring streams mingling with the soft susurrus of sighing branches.

It’s peaceful, and the life-giving spiritual world about me
is reassurance that you are near,
in the joy for life I’ve inherited, in my memories, in my heart…
Until our paths cross again.