“What’s Left Behind”

Published in Walking is Still Honest (W.I.S.H.) (June 2013).

What’s Left Behind

We carry so many things with us—
like petals they drop,
littering the floor by our feet
even as we scoop them into our pollen-dusted palms,
return them to the dry cavity in the chest, the head,
the places where we think they belong.

Like so many things, we are carried,
pieces of us transported away
from where the substance of us remains,
like a star we watch appear each evening—
as Jupiter shines by the rising moon,
the clouds giving way to Orion and Cassiopeia—
a star we watch even knowing
it’s been dead for thousands of years.

These pieces of us are still us—
they are the petals others find by their feet,
the impressions that are carried so far away
that we do not even recognize them
when we encounter them again.
This is all that’s left when we’re gone—
starlight and flower petals, remnants and memories:
portraits, abstractions, what other people saw.

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