Hilary Brown

I asked of her now
And what is your religion?
For she had already told me
In ways that I could not before imagine
All that she had seen
She was ancient
That I was sure of

And I saw in her eyes
Shuttered though they were by age
A fleeting glimpse of rebuke
As if I had understood nothing of
what she said

You talk to me of religion?
I have no religion
One gnarled hand scratching at
the soil now

It is barren
There is no earthworm
No small and sacred life
No leaf fallen from a tree
No covenant with light
Darkness, has descended on all I see;
It is as it will always be
Until we return it to its own

I wondered then
If her poetic turn of phrase
Was not all she intended it to be?
For it was stilted and contrived

She did not trust me
It was clear

I sat on the ground beside her
And asked of her
Show me

With a moment of hesitation
She lifted her hand from the desiccated soil
And placed it over my heart
Its dusty imprint
Remaining with me
Long after she was gone

Hilary Brown is a local poet.