Two hundred five days and a day after another death we tip-toed over sage, first-snow and sand and
whispered, when the next person passes, you’re going to go with them. We were too young to know, but
old enough to pretend and old enough to appreciate every one of your breaths. Sometimes, in wintered-
down days, we’d whisper it two, four, twelve times so we could watch you create two clouds, contours
of grey, sometimes blue and vanishing breath. We got older and knew better but once, we pried your
mouth open with a frozen metal pipe, covered your nose and brushed our palms over your tongue and
you barely budged, proving you were and would always be braver and better than us. Three days and a
day after, everything grew older. We appreciated health and time, traced tendons from three spots on
your barrel to both of your shoulders and, after, we called you Orion. Sometimes, Milky Way.
Sometimes, First Laugh.
Two hundred five days and a day later, I walk through a city and remember you.
Strangers, stop and ask me for a sound that’s more beautiful than the push and pull of a bow across
violin strings. I’ll say sinew and barbwire stretching. I’ll say the scrape of sand against tongue and
tooth and hoof. Ask me for something more beautiful than overflowing concert halls and thousands
standing in applause. I’ll tell you how we ran for miles, extended our arms between telephone poles,
pretended to be as long, as strong as every electric cable strung. Ask me to tell you something you
don’t know. There were two hundred five telephone poles between home and heaven. Before he died,
he knelt beside every one of them saying they are some kind of staircase and never forget vibrations
they hum. Something you don’t know? A thousand horse tails are strung on bows locked inside a
thousand violin cases.