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The Day Bro. Thane Died

I
The day Bro. Thane died
he looked out in the morning sun
at a line of green that marked
the Virgin River.
Late summer- it would be
running slow and easy through
the desert he loved.

“I’ll go there today,”
he thought as his Cream of Wheat
slid down his chin and back into
the bowl.

He thought he’d ask Sal if she’d mind.
His eyes still watered when he remembered
Sal died two years ago. Or was is it
three?

II
The day Bro. Thane died
he slept in the Mormon Temple for
two hours.
No one woke him
as he sat in the passage leading
to the endowment rooms.

Many humble proxies
smiled as they
saw the old man
head back, mouth open
snoring comfortably
dressed in washed-to-many-
times white.

III
The day Bro. Thane died
he drove out to Washington
to where 3rd South crosses
the Virgin. Only three people
honked as he drove slowly and
carefully down streets as
familiar as the halls
and stairs of the Lord’s
Holy House.

It took longer
to walk down the steep embankment
into the sandy wash than it did to drive
from the temple grounds. When he reached
the river he slipped on a piece of
sandstone jutting into the placid stream
and his brittle leg snapped as he
bounced off the rock and into the water.

It was not deep and he glided sitting
and bouncing
downstream to the tip of a sandbar
that snagged him midstream and
still sitting, his chilled leg
giving no pain, watched
the sun set across the brown hills
that had mothered him all his life.

IV
The day Bro. Thane died his
father walked down the middle
of the wash.

Dressed in white
and lifting up his pants to keep his
cuffs from the water,

“Hyrum! You’ve stuck your
foot in it this time; that’s sure”

Bro. Thane smiled.

“You come to get me? Going to take me home?”

“Naw, Sal will be along in a
minute, soon as the sun goes down
a bit. Cool off quick then!”

Bro. Thane looked upstream
hopefully.

“I ain’t been much since
she left . . .” he trailed
off and peered as hard as his
poor eyes could see.

The cool water lapped around his legs
bobbing them softly as the
current tried to decide which way to
divert them around the sand bar
splitting the stream.

“Dad . . . d’I do alright . . .
you know . . . do my duty . . .
serve my fellow man?”

“No- you’ll see . . . Don’t matter none
but . . . it . . .
just . . . you’ll see- you done fine,
my boy, you done fine.”

V
The day Bro. Thane died
Sally Thane
moved down the quiet river
picking up something she
left behind a couple of years back

leaving an empty shell to be found
by two kids
hunting birds with a bee-bee gun.

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2 comments to The Day Bro. Thane Died

  • John Scherer

    I really liked this, especially the conversation between father and son. Thanks.

  • Maybe it’s because I’m old and will be going down my river relatively soon, but I’m still crying from reading that beautiful story. Thanks for posting it, Steve!

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