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"It's not right," my wife said,
"to see him ahead of us.
I want to call him back
to tell him it is not time."

We were the fourth car
in the procession
this October day,
winding our way from town
up and down hills
rich in reds and oranges,
and yellows,
vibrant, specious colors,
precursors of winter's
white annihilation,
heading toward the land
he had labored
for half a century and more.

The minister had spoken of Psalm 8,
how David stared in wonder
at stars beyond number,
as though, I thought,
God had sprinkled
diamonds from his hand,
like salt from a shaker,
across a black sky
until the grains dispersed
beyond our vision.

Consider, the preacher had said,
how marvelous it is
that this same God
who created the constellations,
and galaxies untold and unseen,
could yet fashion us
in His very image,
and see in each of our lives
something precious enough
to warrant salvation.

But somehow I recalled
the dead raccoon
we passed on our way to town,
lying on the side of the road,
covered in the dust
raised by the indifferent tires.

As we returned, my wife said,
"It's alright now.
He is no longer ahead of us,
calling my name."

I thought of the stars
and the void between and beyond them,
and the raccoon's stubborn assertion
of a soulless mortality,
and the body once warm
we had just left in the ground
already covered with sere leaves
beneath a cold and lowering sky.

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