October Poem

Hickory Nut Falls

The wind says, Breathe into the sting,

but the mind anticipates the hive.

Each day bears a lesson.

In my room, where the dry leaves know the secret to eternal life

and the acorn shows me how to stand tall, I search for the gorge,

cool patches of earth like open mouth kisses.

There is no separation.

Papa used prayer, sat in his threadbare chair,

each labored breath a short infinity; each day a gift.

At the water’s edge, I see him as a young man,

feet bare, toes crooked like mine,

working a smooth stone between his fingers

like a talisman to a timeless space.

Ankles numb in the flowing river that connects us,

I stand there as he sends the stone dancing across the water’s surface,

feel the ripples expand within me, remember the calm of his voice:

I am always with you. We are always home.

—Ash Wahl

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