First Life Forward by Dianna Mackinnon Henning

First Life Forward

In polite company one doesn’t mention
details of intimacy, how the river cleansed us
and the stars slept on our tent’s tarp, how you yelled
my name over and over when you came—
the long sleep of tenderness and your belief

we’d last. The steep hike downhill was daunting,
never-ending switch backs, rattle of camp gear,
metal water canteens rock-knocking on our belts,
and when I tripped over a rotted stump you said,
Look at you. Can’t stand on your own two feet.

Many years have passed since I last thought
of you. So, when I read, you’d died two years back,
no remnants of hankering for what might have been.
I’d like you to know I’ve survived quite well alone.
Splendid years without you cautioning every step.

by Dianna Mackinnon Henning

Editor’s Note: This poem’s brilliant imagery provides an excellent backbone for the deeper message of pain and strength that is startlingly evident by the last line.

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