He held his body still. He whispered
as if he had stumbled upon some wild animal —
some holy thing that shouldn’t be disturbed,
that required worship. Our human sounds died down
and our souls settled into our bodies.
Our eyes focused on the tower of stones,
on the way they found each other, the way
they fit together, the way
they balanced against all odds.

Cairns began to emerge from the undergrowth
on each new trek. They were pauses in the universe,
relics that demanded our complete attention.
Each sighting was a new word, we strung sentences.
The sentences defined our relationship. I learned to
speak love through cairns.


I took a new man out into the woods,
down to the ocean. I took him to any number
of natural cathedrals, I pointed out the stacks
of rocks that cried for attention. Cairn,
I murmured. Cairn. 

What what what 

Cairn cairn cairn 

His eyes shifted, his hands played
with the strap of a long neglected designer
hiking backpack. He would finally nod,
a meager affirmation of understanding.
His tongue had died, he could not speak
words, he could not bring life to holy sentences.
His mind had died, he could not remember
sacred meaning.

He trespassed. He did not have the right to be there,
he did not deserve rocks or stones or deer or bird call or
naked flesh speckled by sunlight or caresses
stolen in caves. His hands committed blasphemy
he burned the church down

the last embers are dying