Landscape with an Aspen

Morning is stark over the contours of two hillocks. The slopes are trapped in slow folds of air bright as the glass of an unused photo frame. The air gathers reflections from the undersides of leaves that look like quieted skin in a room with the curtains drawn. The leaves stick to one another and to the bark of the tree that swoons into the blue space off to the side, following the rules of good composition. There are no clouds and the sun is not pictured. Neither is the procession of women that had just passed through here. They wore hoods and held out cupped hands. Their cupped hands carried nothing. Perhaps a bell tolled in the distance and the echo followed them. That we could never have known. But the women, the women – the creases in their palms were thin smiles.