Evensong by Jan Elman Stout
His chin begs to rest on his breastbone. Stand up straight, she tells him, her warm palm reciting the bones of his spine. He snaps to attention. She wants him to conjure the tall pines, unfettered by sharp wind and sheeted rain. He is too stiff to dance.
She closes her eyes as a cool breeze bends the trees. Tiny pinecones tap tap tap knotted roots that peek through silted ground, rolling until bedded needles enshroud them. The pines now whisper to her alone.
When they were young his smooth, firm hand encompassed hers and they circumnavigated the planets.
He lumbers, a primeval tortoise no longer scenting the woods. He remembers their names: Korean Pine, White Spruce, Alpine Fir. But he cannot remember their tune. She is merciful, in turns, and gives him her hand.
Together they dreamed of the sea and fallow meadows and charted apricot moons.
I dream they call to me from the distance, their cries echoing a path until I find them. Clasping their hands, I lift them high above piney peaks, past the sickle moon, ahead of the dimming sky. Together, as one, we tinker with the stars and kiss goodbye.