NINE MILE MOUNTAIN

 

I leave snowshoe tracks

in a winter’s worth of powder

that my son follows for a time

 

before making his own way

up the mountain. At ten,

alive in this snow-filled Arcadia,

 

why wouldn’t he believe his steps

could be his alone? That our tracks

left behind in the quiet forest

 

will soon guide our return?

When my father died near Cloudcroft,

the ambulance speeding down

 

toward the Tularosa Basin,

I followed fifteen minutes behind.

He was always in the lead.

 

In the hospital, near the body,

his black work boots stood alone

on a countertop as if waiting

 

for use by the back door at home.

My father will never rest in peace.

I imagine his figure up ahead

 

moving among the ascendant pines,

his snowy steps waiting for ours

to come to life, to shape oblivion.

 

 

Todd Copeland’s poems have appeared in The JournalHigh Plains Literary ReviewSouthern Poetry Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Adirondack ReviewSewanee Theological Review, Antigonish Review, and Columbia Poetry Review, among other publications.

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