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When I Die, Bury Me Where the Fog Rests

I can’t remember where I was when he last spoke. Time was stained-glass shards glistening in the light, but fragments drift in memory like a low fog:
 
When I die I want my body buried here where we’ve worked so hard to build our place.
 
Were these words spoken over a campfire as we traveled west under press of stars?
 
Or, did he breathe them through swollen lips as his body lost its strands of life?
 
If I go first, bury me close to you and Joe.
 
And so we did. You can see the wind-washed fence that surrounds his grave from the stairs landing. Each wooden picket is covered in lichen. But I can still smell the turned earth of that day each time I step to it and kneel.
 
When I die bury me where the fog rests.
 
How I wished to follow his body into the grave. How only Joe’s tiny body clinging to mine kept me from letting go.
 
This is a hard life. Marry again. Don’t be alone.
 
Had he known when he spoke these words how impossible they would be? Seasons soar past. The bare trees burst into blossoms, green out and then fruit. The plentiful harvest. Then, bare again and again.
 
When I die I want my body buried here where we’ve worked so hard to build our place.
 
I still walk each row wearing his old work boots, my arms sinewy with sun and work. My heart gone stained glass, but mended. The way an apple graph takes – one branch grows into the other and carries on but forever changed.
 
 
 

Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s poetry collection, There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air is forthcoming from Word Tech in 2015. Her first collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry, essays and creative non-fiction have been published in Fence, Volt, The New Guard, Lake Effect, Sugar Mule, Calyx and many more journals. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College. She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University. She is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference.