The scent of her you remember the longest, I suppose.
Not consciously, but buried like a recital piece you once
worked over so stiffly, like a sore tooth, but now can’t even hum,
until you pass by an open window where notes start and then suddenly stop sharp,
or you hear someone say “air” with a small rise at the end,
as though they had meant to swallow it, but a gust had lofted it
like silken milkweed at dusk.
And her skin, yes, the warmth of it, the buttermilk sheen
that deepened to sweet citrine as the summer bloomed.
You walked up hills together. In the bright sun,
in the open places, the snakes uncoiled on stones,
the wasps wavered over pink balm that stood
both so earnestly straight-stemmed and faintly wilted at the leaves.
And then her hand closed tightly around yours,
as she spied, with a small gasp of wonder,
an elk cow, softly feeding on the grass by the pines.
Her hand just as quickly released,
as the cow bolted towards the trees,
and in the stars that could not yet be seen,
a lovely queen let her head tilt back,
with her distant hair
so flowing, so free.