On My Son Ben

I know a tree where you used to play,
a hundred townies’ names
sliced into its tattered trunk,
a robe of Joes and Emilys,
Rachels and Dannys,
a vast beech with serpentine arms
that have long reached over
our local young and youthful loves,
sheltering them like the hood of the cobra
that sheltered Shakyamuni from the rain.

But here at the feet of this god,
I stand with my handful of ashes
and cannot find your name.
The evening breeze
sleepwalks through the woods,
setting the high leaves rocking,
a belfry of whispers.
The birds sing indifferent songs
to an indifferent, sinking sun.
A lone, late robin
dithers its addled repetition:
Is it so? It is so. Is it so? It is so.

I scatter your grit and stare upward
into the height of the tree and think:
here you played—you played
and left no trace of your name,
except where you carved it
deep within me.

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