“Ode to Orion” by Sandra K. King

Sunbeam footprints shimmer along the gravel road;

stardust shards of quartz are as twinkly-eyed

as were the gentleman’s whose resting place 

I’d hope to visit,

located just past the alfalfa fields and beyond the farmer’s fence

where they lie cradled by the roots of the tall tree 

into which shared soil he has been interred.

Hands and feet once dedicated to good works–

faithfully, but not flawlessly executed–

are perceived by many to be now stilled

yet believed by others to have transcended 

beyond our spectrum’s perspective.

As the aspen before me quakes

and the earth below its branches is quiet,

an arrow from the gentleman’s quiver is heard to speak

in the tongues of trolls and the speech of scorpions;

it is the voice of a son who traded his celestial inheritance

for an eternal feast of grief, bitterness, and blame,

like clingy pine-pitch fistfuls of sand,

sorry sustenance he’s hoarded in heaps.

The words warn: No one may pass 

to pay their respects to the gentleman at rest

without permission,

even if regarded by the mourner as a brother.

I see now the widow approaches,

apple-shaped in her coat of angry red;

the command is clearly dispatched that I must go,

but I dig in for one last long gaze at that magnificent tree,

thirsty eyes draw in deep the vision before I turn to leave.

Movement toward reluctant retreat shakes something loose–

a fluttery creature in my chest slips like an unbound bird

out through the back of my rib cage 

and flies up to the highest branches of the tree and sings a lullaby song, 

tender and ancient as an ode to Orion.

Through silent sobs, my own mouth shapes the melody, joins in lyrical duet.

As I walk away, benevolent tracks are covered by twilight.

Sandra King moved from the center of America‚Äôs Dairy Land to Central Tacoma where she enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and an occasional essay, and making oil pastel drawings. She has been published in Inquietudes Literary Journal “Spaces”, Wrist Magazine, the Tacoma Laureate Listening Project, Creative Colloquy Volumes 2, 5, and 6, and has been honored to be a featured reader for Tacoma City Ballet’s Mid-Winter Masquerade Ball Soiree, the Creative Colloquy Lit Crawl, and the Vision 2025 Literary Festival.