Makeshift Memorial

Atop the mountain.
Atop the mountain.

I walk along the uncleared path

of nothingness and rocks,

so many rocks of varying size,

powdered with snow and ice

on the hardened dirt that

somehow still finds a way to

thaw into dust on my boots.

I walk past the painted steel

that separates the only park

in town, which really isn’t

a natural park, since so much

of this city is surrounded by

nature during the warmer times,

up towards the base of a

mountain with no name.

I look at the patchwork forests

that beard the mountain and

cover its blemishes when the

heat agitates the roots and

causes them to be ingrown,

but now this patch is no forest;

just a veil of skeletons wearing

rings of frost and frozen sap.

I reach into my pocket and

place down a cheap Chinese

firework, which I was assured

would not whistle or cause

any commotion, and strike

my match, shielding it with

my glove from the lazy winds

that blow as if their mother

nagged them into doing so.

I light the fuse and watch it

spark in the way that makes

wicks envious in their wax,

eventually disappearing into

the cylinder, red and green

fires erupt, spreading balls

of fire as the cylinder blooms.

Inside it holds a flower,

fully engorged in flames,

its stamen glowing brightly–

I imagine this is how St. Elmo’s

Fire looks to brine-soaked

sailors delirious from the day’s

sun– sizzling and coughing,

sputtering and stammering

as it gets out its last words

before the winds and cold

take it away from us forever.

A makeshift memorial now

lays at my feet: a burned out

husk of grey and black embers,

smoking gently, covered by

the breeze and memories of

how great it once was. I look

up and adjust my scarf, now

covered in frost from my breath,

and head back to my own world

of glowing fires and muttering.

Composed 01/23/14

Author’s Note: After my friend passed away, some of the others visited the site where he died and lit a candle for him. I was away on work during it all. The whole situation is still very surreal.


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