Keeping Secrets

After Linda Pastan

What secrets do the ashes keep
from the wholeness of the trees
from the splintered pieces of paper
from me stoking this fire–
If I could but read each spark
that whispers into ashes
I could know what troubled you that night

You gathered letters and diaries
dried flowers and ribbons
tied them all up and tossed them into the fire
I thought heartache
but you swore it wasn’t so
You claimed giving up the ghost
but I saw the tears as the bundle burned

If he were dead you said, it would be easier
And as I waited for more discovery
the flames flickered and died
taking the secrets with them


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