Naked slopes, steep manzanita red
with rock and leafless oaks, fall
into the slow Kaweah and reach
into the blue from the headstones
of pioneers, terraced family plots
facing west, all looking up
as generations gather, heads bowed.
How many times has Earl sung
to this timeless skyline, how many
of his cattle calls still reverberate
in these canyons? No cowboy song,
he picks “School Days” for her childhood
chums, gray octogenarians recalling
the twinkle beneath jet-black hair.
Simple sendoff with simple words,
everyone of us believing she will be
welcomed “In the Garden”—everyone of us
converted for a good, long moment.
for Barbara Brewer Ainley