the last time my grandma smiled
was when my niece carefully wrapped arms around her neck
& held tight for just a moment. i took it in
from the foot of the hospice bed, & now i return often
in my mind to rewatch her thinned face ignite.
how lovely can be haunting as well:
the way parts of yellowstone have looked
since the wildfires that burned before my birth.
i’ve only ever known the bony remains
of countless lodgepole pines jutting
out from fresh carpets of green along the firehole river.
her voice is somewhere in the river
moving: a million soft gallops over stones.
pebbles exhumed from the banks
to be thumbed over & skipped back
across the surface for a moment before falling
back into the current, resting somewhere
untouched, perhaps, for another millennium or more.
• • •
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JACE RAYMOND SMELLIE is an MFA candidate at George Mason University originally from Pocatello, Idaho. Jace is a descendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He was awarded a 2021 MFA Travel Fellowship from The Alan Cheuse Center for International Writers, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Cimarron Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Marathon Literary Review, and Boston Accent Lit.