The Last Song

Lately I hear a strange song
coming through my father's mouth—

the song of the man
who must lurch down a ravine
his frail hands
shaking, fluttering out
as if trying to halt the music

the song of lips
fumbling for words
fingers shell-shocked
clenching the car key—
oh where does it fit in

the song of legs
yearning for home, seeking
out rooms that no longer exist
feet too frightened
for stairs

the song of the man
who must stumble down a shaft
eyes frenzied
staring at the rattling edge—
oh how can he hold on

Lately I hear a sad song
coming through my father's mouth—

the song of loose dirt


Late Winter

The sky looks frigid today, a starched rag.
But snow I am trying to shovel sticks like half-wet

cement. Each toss of slush I fling, about the weight
of Mother and Father, in their plastic bags

waiting to be scattered. They will have to be patient
until spring or summer—I cannot bear the thought

of Father’s feet getting cold. I know, I know—
these ashes are only ground-up bone

all soft tissue, organs, vaporized in the furnace—
somehow, no consolation. If grass roots

could speak, I might ask them about abeyance
and renewal. Let my parents rest through the whims

of winter, soon enough the earth will make room
for them and help them do what they must do.

Again and again, my arms fall, lift, body
turns. The sun watches, ashen complicity.


Copyright © 2010 Margaret Walther


Margaret Walther is a retired librarian from the Denver metro area and a past president of Columbine Poets, an organization to promote poetry in Colorado. She has been a guest editor for Buffalo Bones, and has poems published or forthcoming in many journals, including Connecticut Review,, Ghoti, Quarterly West, Naugatuck River Review, Chickenpinata, Willow Review and Nimrod. She won the Many Mountains Moving 2009 Poetry Contest for her poem, “Stills/ Steals.”