By Andrew Taylor-Troutman 

He said the grief
of losing his wife was like walking upstream through a river …
of honey, he added. It’s a slog, for sure,
but not without its sweetness.

He has always loved her hands. The shape of them.
When she lay dying,
he massaged her palms and fingers,
gently pressing each into his memory.
Now, he walks on fallen leaves in the woods
and can feel her hand in his.

Before she died,
he asked for a guitar for his birthday. Yes, of course, she’d replied,
you pick it out — and pay for it!
He laughed at this memory.
He’d bought the Martin guitar he’d always wanted,
and now he plays it. Every. Single. Day.

Yesterday, he rummaged through boxes in the garage,
just pawing through old junk, he said,
but found the note she’d written 20 years ago,
which she’d secretly tucked into his backpack
before his first overnight trip on the Appalachian Trail:

I love you. Have a great adventure.

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the author of five books. His book of poems, Tigers, Mice & Strawberries, is slated for publication by Kelsay Books in June 2023. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and is working towards a Doctor for Ministry in Creative Writing and Public Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.