Paul sought sanctuary among the aspens.
They granted it after
he dropped on his knees in tears.
They softened the afternoon sunshine.
The aspens shifted him away from the stream
into the center of the grove.
Here they protected him while he grieved.
They mistook his tears
for sap running down his trunk.
For an hour they protected his reflection.
They covered his scent
and stirred the leaves where his footprints marked.
Early spring smelled damp amid snow melt.
Rootlets grew upward
from the soil to touch his knees—console him.
The forest smelled good he remembered.
copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney