On her deathbed she asks me if I can still play
the piano, and begins to sing of jasper roads.
I search the linen for forgotten crochet needles
she swears are under the cushions.
Her hands never stop moving, trembling out
letter after letter into the air, spelling something
intangible, something liquid. Never forgetting
to stab her finger at the end of each line.
After she is buried, I hang no basil
and pray to a god I do not know, but fear.
Receiving no answer, I pray to her instead,
and finally to something quiet and unnamable.
I imagine a silver cord still exists between us,
not yet buried by the snowfall.
Somewhere between here and there,
I find her in a mildewed trailer,
next to Highway 30, heading east.
I tell her I have my car waiting out back,
you don’t have to stay here.
In the backyard my father is dowsing for water,
she has a headache so my palms begin to spill
salt over her gray hair.
I try to take her cold hand into my mine,
but she does not reciprocate, they remain fixed
melded into the porch banister.
Instead her eyes, milky and bewildered, stare
into the darkness searching the dim hills,
looking out into the distance somewhere.
Joy Bowman lives and writes in eastern Kentucky. Her work can also be found in the anthology Feel It With Your Eyes: Writing Inspirited by the University of Kentucky Art Museum. She is a practicing hermit.