I hope that when I die
My memories will not die with me.
I hope instead
They will whoosh upwards out of me
A great colorful cloud
Of ten thousand wild parrots
Swirling away in ten thousand directions
Seeking new places to roost.
Perhaps one of the younger ones
Will happen across someone
Hiking for the first time
Where my beloved and I hiked today
Along the wooded lakeside
Damp and muddy and rich with winter decay
Mushrooms of many shapes and hues
Sprouting on rotting logs
And popping up through the duff
A pair of irate kingfishers complaining vigorously
About two fishermen
Invading their space
A pileated woodpecker
Heard but not seen
Pounding heavily on a dead Douglas fir
The low sky and the gray lake
Mirroring each other.
And perhaps just as that parrot of memory
From our winter walk today
Alights in the thicket of neurons
Inside her skull
That first-time visitor
Will pause on the trail
To look and listen and fill her senses
With the forest life all around her
Surprised to remember so vividly
A place where she’s never been.
Buff Whitman-Bradley has published widely in small literary journals, both in print and online. He has also published a number of books, the latest of which is Cancer Cantata, poems written during his treatment for cancer in 2016. He lives in northern California with his wife, Cynthia.