In Sand and Ashes

A poem in memory of Douglas Hall
July 23, 1965 – June 23, 2014

As we gather our small cadre to mourn
The loss of brother, friend, and son
We hike to his favorite place
Where he said he wanted his ashes strewn.

We stand together, shifting in our grief
Still bewildered at our sudden loss
And grappling with our torn emotions
The sand absorbing our silent, awkward glances.

Canyon wrens take up cascading song
While we relate stories of our fallen friend
Their lilting songs swell and swirl as our voices falter
Bringing unexpected serenity to my pounding heart.

I’ve never done this foreign thing
Laid to rest a cohort of my age
One who looked the same a month before
As he did when we were band-mates years ago

But I feel him here with us
In this vertical sandstone cathedral
A spotted owl observes from lofty crag
Perhaps it is he.

Here in his favorite place forever
I draw in sand and ashes
An abstract pattern of spirals
“It’s like his art,” his mother says.

He is with us every day
In stories, songs, and laughter
And his loving, caring gentleness
Will guide me when I walk this path again.