When she died, I left New York for this valley
where the Appalachian hills hold the breath
of the dead between them and lift from each
morning a fresh bandage of mist. I watched
the lowering, her coffin rocking into the ground
like a cradle swaddled in gravel and dirt,
the early fog sinking in so dense I could tear it
into pieces like bread. I felt the gaze of the other
mourners follow me, their eyes scattering birds.
A fine ice dusted silently, silvering my hair
into my mother’s. Cupping my hands, I gathered cold
globes of breath and as I watched it whisper away
I wanted to know if the dead hold their mouths in their
hands like this to know what is left of them.
When I left the valley, I took it with me, the train
slicing the fields leaving its stiff suture.