I stood in a daze by a distant window, phone clutched to my ear, hearing your laughing voice. Six months after, I sweep along roads on unfamiliar wheels, swerve in sickening motions that trace the trail of my thoughts across the landscape. I pass cow pastures, and cornfields scythed down, to a dirt road that trundles up the hillside. No sign or entryway to pass, I cut the engine, step out. A tree stands gnarled and twisted, bending over with the weight of its fruit. I do not stop to ease its burden, head instead for the highest ground. Along the trail, I study the yellow beech leaves, green at the veins, the last tones visible before gold steals over. The tips are burnt, the color of the hardwood floorboards you hid your handgun under. You never liked the sight of it, but said it was needed. I do not need apples that hang dreary, or mottled bark shot through with silver; you would have taken a picture. I reach the top of the hillside, look outwards at a distant field. The trees behind it are a brilliant red, little clouds of flame. There you burn, smokeless, and dress the field in a layered sunset robe.
Greer Engle-Roe attends Interlochen Arts Academy; Engle-Roe tied for third place in the Charles Crupi Memorial Poetry Contest for Michigan High School students. For more information on the contest, please visit the Albion College English Department website.