In the moment you turn to climb the school bus stairs
I remember our first hike in the Adirondacks:
how fast you sprung up the rocky path
looking for warblers
and red-winged blackbirds.
You’re slower now.
Your backpack so heavy
gravity almost pulls you back to me.
Or am I wishing it in these words?
You lift yourself up and forward
with the same determination you had on the trail
and step into your own life.
Which, come to think of it now,
always was yours
from me, never mine.
Really, it’s no wonder you don’t look for me
from the bus. You are still but moving
and even more focused
than you were in the bog.
When you spotted a brown sparrow
and I saw nothing, not a leaf flickering,
I wondered if there was any bird at all
but went along with it
for the sake of the thrill.
Oh, I see the sparrows in front of me now:
The many small strangers of you emerge from this branch
of heartbreak and joy. You fly like a flock—
all at once
and turn to catch the wind.
Christina Matthews is a former English Composition and Creative Writing Instructor. She currently resides in Syracuse, New York, where she is buried in snow for five months out of the year. She received an MFA with a concentration in poetry from Georgia College. Her work has appeared in The Adirondack Review and The Hudson Literary Journal, along with various other journals.