So She Sets Off

A woman dies but keeps it a secret.
She doesn’t want all the commotion,
cancelled plans, last minute flights.

She just wants to slip away like a leaf
into the river, into the current that will
take her to the sea. She wants to keep

her back roads hidden, those unmarked
trails through steep ravines, for when
people try to map her. They draw only

what they see and see only what they draw.
Never coming close—only closer to what
they want to believe. So she sets off.

Ice out on the river, snow out in the field,
red-winged blackbirds out roadside,
green shoots poking out of brown.

When she gets to the summit her boots
are full of mountain, tree bark under
her nails, a pileated’s swooping fills

her ears. She has an unobstructed view
of the ridge, but she likes obstructions.
Even dead she wants to feel the world

rush against her. Especially dead she
wants to feel the ache of it pushing back.

Gratitude Works: A Post Pandemic Poem
Sounding at Sea