Little Michele, little friend, little missed miss, I'm readying a flapping knapsack to meet the changes time has made to friendship, and to hug what cannot change or pall until death entreats a final retirement to all. Little Michele, who first unveiled the graven paths of Yosemite to me, the deep crisp chiseled sky squared above mendicant hikers filing up the Great Falls' narrowing way! Falls whose mists surround me still, wooly polyester fluff of a winter coat near as hair, as white as my new beard now puffs in mirrors. Sleep keeps you in Sacramento, at rest from day-long hospice rounds where time lies blanketed in neat-tucked beds, while I wake in winter-gripped New Jersey where houses huddle together against slush, marooned amid mirrored sheets of old ice that sweat slick at noon only to find the moon skating re-hardened silvers nigh midnight when all the over-busy Garden State is silent. It is out of such silence that I write, my bamboo desk turned tundra by the racing moon that pulls at my recalcitrance like a leash. I resist these dim hours of witting speech when need and time conspire to eke forth words for one both dearly near and distantly absent-- Right now, I'd rather sit speechless with thee, brimful of meaning tears and politely quiet, there in the granite dell where age elides to age, our feet stuck out dry before the campfire, pines leaning in inquisitive with the burst faces of old men shouldering down for warmth, myself yearly learning their wrinkled ways.... A tin wind tat-tats at the window-frame as I adjust my terrycloth robe and note the snow aswirl with words against the blackened panes; how nature moves no matter how still we seem! Even in this dead of night, I think again what times we spent along the reeling shore-- bright trash wrestling the tideline, wrangled wrappers skidding in the static grip of sand, a benediction in the beating surf perhaps as we pointed out new futures for ourselves beneath the dome of stars--the varied constellations' lines growing real as we traced them, the faces of two strangers maturing into friends. Shall we walk and talk that way again when California flits beneath my jumbo's wings, after the soft halt and hiss of wheels on tarmac when your round mellow face emerges smiling from the airport parking lot? After our fellowship of decades, I'm coming out for your investiture as chaplain. Long you tramped the dismal ways of youth, pathless, a-thrist, seeking in granite lanes for a seed--your spirit at last made plain in hospice corridors: hands and long-tried lives held to their denouement, as when a low corner in close woods is turned and Half Dome rises revealed, a pale presence otherworldly as a planet, yet placed in the same precincts as us, sharing the same oft-shouldered air, in vestments streaked by spring rain that scents all afresh. So your chaplaincy seems to me, your old friend winter-gripped and griping lonesomely, getting to know again your slender grandeur-- the presence of a life made complete by purpose. A life brimmed, and, at the brim, over- filled till the light within quivers, quivers even when some infinitesimal breath overplays its tautened surface howsoever gently. So, too, are you full, little Michele, so stretched with love and life divine, a filled cup of teary dews scooped from roaring falls that navigate craggy canyon rocks with white work; filled, too, with dews salted by New Jersey's ocean where a child's barefoot steps stitched minuets many sunny days beside the prolonging surf-- a young woman's hand I held in the dew-light of the quick eternal moon as we walked companionably at peace before the dawn.