Dodd Hopkins lost his mind the day after his wife passed,
left his bed hours before the sun tipped the mountain’s edge.
The morning wind was to his ear a prophetic tongue.
In sleeping clothes, barefoot, the moon’s scant flame to light
his way, he walked into woods over briars and bramble
fully numb, wandered until dawn dipped the sky
in blue. He gathered all the flowers he could find, made
trips back and forth from woods to home with armfuls
of fringed phacelia, trillium, gentian, trailing arbutus.
The land’s unsteady gable dizzied him, and, near noon,
his feet bleeding and the solar bath of light singeing his skin,
his brain absorbed the rate at which Earth spun.
He knew that no alchemies would summon
her, that no mix of ivy and thorn and blood would stall
the devils that carved the last of his sense away. He couldn’t
shake the vision of her body underground, bleeding dry.
So he reaped and reaped until he felt satisfied he’d upset
spring’s dark womb, made a hex of its design, and for weeks
more crept the ridges in mourning, snatching plants up
by fistfuls, his only solace the fibrous sounds of tearing taproot,
his smile the raveling of that embroidery.
He filled the house with her—blooms and leaves
took the shape her body had pressed into their bed. Nights
he cooked for two, placed wild onion and daffodils
in her supper chair. He lined apple leaves along the window
sills she used to crack to let the warmer seasons in.
Once he’d finished with the house, he transcribed her
into the winding path she’d tread in grass and mud
to tend their yard, to feed the garden until it fed them back.
And though all this work summoned her once or twice
to shimmer in his dreams, these steeped floras made the map
of grief he traveled every day, toiled to tend, even as all
he did to keep her there wilted, cracked, or blew away.