Under Contrails

My father is dying. He is hauling his life

like a wagon of stones up a mountain,

a frayed rope, an attenuated will,

into the comfort of less mind,

the solace of not wondering.

The name of the mountain escapes me,

the city nearby. To tell you the truth

I can barely remember—a rental car away

from Seattle or Vancouver. Long roads,

lined with plowed snow, narrowing.

Bare-chested on a windy ledge, we stared.

In one direction for a thousand miles

the snow is a clean sheet of paper,

written with pines. Branches, all morning,

shed snow, returning to form, lightened.

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