When you died I burrowed your name
into an oak’s crippling bark with my fingernails,
curled it between the ribbed grooves,
reading with my eyes love and lover,
a touch I carry withering in my breast.
I came to fathom the dark, to remember
and name your warm, work-rough skin
that held a shade above me,
made the earth soft and salt-scented.

I never noticed the iron-drag of years pull away,
but I touch what’s left, flaking stump,
bald roots flickering above the mud
and how it felt to sleep with your palms
drawn across my back, resinous and breakable,
curl of your elbow cradling my neck.

Little blisterings, like headstones, rise from the bark
as I trace a small wholeness of you,
a name I whisper, and polish between my lips.
I leave you there with the heartless shadows,
the oak-casket of your death, the dark scars
your love has left its touch upon.