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 Journal, High Plains Literary Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Adirondack Review, Sewanee Theological Review, Antigonish Review, and Columbia Poetry Review, among other publications.