My friend lives on this road
the same as me, two hollows down,
two gladed mountainsides,
briar patches that go without saying,
fields in pumpkin or hay or fallow.
Once, we can never forget, a bear.
And once for too long a season
a road-killed deer whose return to dust
we both watched, the ragged pelt
dried to leather, the shipwreck of rib cage.
My friend alone saw the bear, and
told me of it, the winter of her chemo.
I was the one to see the deer
fresh struck, and had to find words,
though even now I can hardly bear
to say how I watched hooves beating air,
reaching for some blind heaven.
Between us, we know this map by heart.
I walk from my house to hers
and then together we speak of things—
or don’t, we are often quiet—
all the way back home to mine. Or she
walks here first, collects me for her return.
Either way, this is the road where we live.
Always we walk each other home.
And always we walk some of it alone.
From How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver. Copyright © 2020 by Barbara Kingsolver. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.