Lodgepole, lupine, paintbrush, phlox.
Deer prints in the trail above the creek where moss
hides among rocks, and water carries last winter away.
Today, no wolverine above timberline, no eagle.
We didn’t climb that high. Just the ordinaries
of this place, this afternoon.
How many summers since we’ve hiked here, toasted
the alpenglow, slept under Polaris? Have you
forgotten the tangle-thicket of willow in the meadow?
how forget-me-nots cling to our socks?
Bluebirds almost too blue to be real. Junco and jay.
A chickadee fledged from my hand.
Way above us, lava cliffs where ravens nest.
Remember what 8000-foot elevation
does to the heart. Remember larkspur, cinquefoil,
sagebrush – write them down as if
that could bring the day back. How soon
we leave the ashes of our summer.