Voices on the Wind Voices in Tribute
tribute by Mark Vogel Entrenched in his porch recliner he was the guardian looking down the valley, the first scout and keeper of the road surrounded by his handiwork— bird feeders cut from milk cartons, firewood split and stacked, saved seed in jars ready to marry dirt. His endless restless plans were commonly voiced: Got six hundred strawberries you can dig come spring. He collected huckleberries and witch hazel leaves and walnuts, as if he was born in flannel, dressed for work, wearing his ancient hat. Up since five he wandered with tools in hand seeking jobs to be done on a restless road. But now, oh hell, like a dark November cloud announcing winter, nothing is balanced, for loving Roy has stumbled away, despite his telling a thousand stories of what once seemed permanent. The stark truth is that he died this breezy morning, and the earth has shifted. What will happen to the raspberries, the lime-green water cress, the currants just growing mature, when he isn’t here to notice? Who will fight weeds in rich July, and see the red salamanders in the creek? Who will smile and talk to cowbirds as friends who appreciate his blueberries? Who with patience will sit at the pond to scare away the heron? The silence is palpable, waiting for Roy’s quiet coda when a visit ended: good to see you, come back down. Outside the air moves, as if he shuffles this way, smiling. For his absence is real as the boulders tumbling in the stream, his weeded onions seeking sun, the bright zinnias in his roadside flower bed, though the caretaker without notice has slipped away.