Life had been trying to kill you years before you went missing.
Your father's slow suffocation from lung disease, your mother's
quick-slit heart attack. The truck that pulled out in front of you,
your lung pierced with the rib meant to protect it.
Reborn with a femur more metal than bone, you drove northwest
toward Desolation Peak where Kerouac, your favorite writer, spent
two months surrounded by what he called unbelievable jags and twisted
rock and snow-covered immensities.
There are things undisputed: you watched American Beauty,
drove skyward. Your Jeep mangled in a canyoned creek, your mother’s
fingerless ring under the floor mat, your clothes and money scattered.
So much of you was found in the dust-dry dirt, but not your body.
From here on, your story is stormed with speculation. Dead, likely,
but no titanium-enhanced skeleton, nothing for your sister to bury
or burn. It's as if you were swallowed by the scenery, your eyes swamped
with sky, your heart now the hot, dark center of the mountain's rage.
Kami Westhoff’s work has appeared in various journals including Meridian, Carve, Third Coast, West Branch, The Pinch, Passages North, and Waxwing. Her chapbook Sleepwalker, won the 2016 Dare to Be Contest from Minerva Rising and her collaborative chapbook Your Body a Bullet (co-written with Elizabeth Vignali and featuring work included in Stirring) is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. She teaches Creative Writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.