Tonight, the spirits crowd close
and speak in voices made of wind.

Long ago, when your heart was closed,
you spoke your prayers quietly in the night.
And the wind whipped hard with hail
to speak its own prayer on the roof:

“Give to us what you love the most.”

There was an owl in the tree then
as there is an owl now, beckoning you
to bury the stone of your heart
on the mountain path,

to wait three nights
for the first green shoots
to sprout in burned soil.

“Give to us what you love the most.”

This must be the scythe
you have been waiting to feel
on the nape of your neck.

There is no turning back now;
there is only the path
before you and the cold air,
the solid ground beneath your feet
and rise after rise of the mountain.

There is only the sound of doors
closing and opening
against the beating of your heart.

There is only this small stone
of a heart
and the wet earth on your hands
as you set it once more into the soil.

“Give to us what you love the most.”

You have been here before,
you will be here again,
and a forest will grow
from your leavings.