for Nancy Puls Clark, 1943-2019

As I step onto the dormant country road,
The neighbor’s manicured lawn mocks my to-do list.
Graying skies and recently bared elms frame my stroll
And I savor cleansing breaths of fresh autumn air.

A few tiny birds and black squirrels are the only fauna.
Traces of trees that toppled in a recent wind litter the shoulder.
Soybeans have been harvested, exposing the ground.
Arrayed in rustling rows, leathery corn stalks wait their turn.

You lie in a Gotham hospital awaiting major surgery,
But I imagine you walking beside me talking about pecan pie,
Laughing at corny jokes and asking about ancestors.
In the distance, over the lake, the sunset is about to blossom.

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