Mary Ellen Strack, Into the Allerton
Into the Cathedral

For the anniversary of your husband’s death we drove
not to a church, but to all the roads we could think of
where trees canopied the pavement like naves. 
Our trek through foliaged tunnels, highlighted by day
glittering through leaves.

We shared a love of nature and treasures hidden
in plain sight, strived not to miss the rapture or roar
of life – a host of 22 Fu dogs lined a garden 
concealed by cornfields and farms; knobby apples,
sculptures hung on an installation of tangled arms.

Now seven years since your spouse suddenly died
I am in mourning for you dear, sweet friend.
A Caledonian forest fills the glades in my head
when in reality, the giants have almost all been slain to ash.

Your porch sits empty where we once journeyed
on rocking chairs across painted planks,
laughter accented our song of conversation.      
You joked that your veranda was a womb, and now
I wonder if we’re always seeking re-entry into sanctuaries such as these.

Death can whittle away even the tallest oak to twig
 disturb steadfast bark off-kilter from its trunk.
Somewhere I heard that trees don’t ache or cry
but here today, returning to our cathedral in the woods,
we are all bent over in the most solemn pain and prayer.

Anita Stienstra