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Guardian of the Gates
by CB Follett

clouds hang in tattered sheets of rain
beating the bay into froth
and there are things I want to tell you,

little nudges through the morning
though there isn’t any use to say them now,
tossed into the wind that carries lightly
and drops along the way.

I wanted to tell you about the mountain lion
that crossed my path this morning
don’t worry
far ahead, just a lean motion in the grass

a disappearing shape.
I heard your crack of warning and turned back.
Your voice still part of my day,
clear as when you were here;

and the juncos have built a nest,
I’m sure of it, in the twists of the juniper.
I can’t see it, though I’ve pressed through the tangle
looking for some shape more solid than needles.

They fly in and out so exuberantly,
chatter to each other;
probably the jay will get them,
he considers our house part of his realm.

You used to like the birds – those flashes of color,
the quick trill of this is mine. Yesterday,
a little white dog, some sort of terrier
climbed our steps and woofed at the door,

came in, made itself an occupant. Our dog
accepting if bemused. Mostly they ignored each other
After a while, the white dog trotted to the door,
rattled its paws and I let it on its way.

It made me think of you
how you’ve come and gone, leaving a shape
of yourself in the living room.
Did I tell you one of Grammy’s teaspoons

got caught in the disposal, a long horrid clatter
of ruin, did you make that clucky noise
or was it born in my own throat.
My friends write to me now, you know,

remembering the tunnels of our youth
and you, the guardian of the gates.
They remember sleigh rides and sailboats,
a sort of goulash it took hours to make.

I can taste it still, probably they can too,
full of the slant of memory,
of what we were like young –
of what you were like young.


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