There is a Pebble

Atop jagged peaks jutting into the sky,
Beneath twisted trees draped in snow,
There is a pebble.


Across an empty clearing, a chickadee chatters
And a squirrel–tail twisting and flickering like uneasy fire–
Flies up a lodgepole.
The pebbles rests, below.


Trees creak with heavy cloaks of winter snows.
Clouds stumble past the peaks
Like drunken guests,
Weeping diamonds and crystal coins.
But the pebble is quiet.


The sun sets and sets and sets a million times.
Through blizzards and windstorms
The years run off in the soft song of melting snow.
Through it all, the pebble waits, patient.
That is all I know.

Probably Strangers

I might have seen you and your mom buying shampoo at Target
or clutching a mocha as you stepped around slush in a Starbucks parking lot.
We were probably strangers,
still I’m stuck on your story–
I have a sister, thirteen, too.


I heard you had been at the movies
and I can see you skipping with friends,
chatter carrying you to the stoplight,
swinging arms as you watched and waited.
The cars charged by that evening, bellowing busyness
as their lights crested the hill, then swept by, an angry militia.


Then it all


I sat a half-block away at dinner with friends
when the first fire truck pulled to the intersection, lights leaking urgency.
Then the minutes crept faster than the bleeding trail of brake lights
as more responders arrived and the road throbbed red and blue and white–
ten sirens wailing in the chaos.


And so we stopped and said simple prayers
for peace and protection–the honest hopes of bystanders.
Later we saw the police reports seeping sorrow, detailing
the dark night and walk signal that never was and the accident that ended in death.
There is little more to tell.


Sadness squeezes me, though it chokes and strangles
those you loved, its force fiercer.
But I want you to hold these words through the weeks to come:
We prayed for you,
not knowing it was you,
out there on the road.


This poem is written for thirteen-year old Angelina Thompson, who passed away on January 20, 2019. She was crossing the street after a movie was friends. 


How can I lose
what I’m not sure I’ve found?
For while my heart now
speaks softly–so silent the sound–
that I fear I’m mistaken
or was led to believe
in a phantom of feelings
where hope was conceived.