So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me — Emerson
He is abandoned in that snow country
after the ice broke and his truck went under,
his words erased with the fuel and cargo,
prey to the madness of a bridge over a floating world.
What errand for a howl with no walls to receive it –
one wind slamming through him, toothless and jawless;
two foxes loping over a blanched desert, their tears
sharpening with the nights. His wife is a prism casting blank
in him as the light wanes, she who made him
long for a house whose beams had not been stolen, who
handed him a scripture of surrender to that cold and its plow.
He moves on all limbs as if toward a memory of split wood,
the ice beneath him running to veldt, its margins slashed
and burning. There is an eye in this place that watches
none but the invisible, an ear heeding a voiceless
breath that orders him now to go; to go down
into that mistake of salt and untie his shoes. For this ground
is hallowed. For tomorrow the woman who comes to claim him
will find him buried in the drifts and shadows of that long way,
her own silence deepening with the banked snow,
and she will wade with him in her arms into the marshes
of their spent darkness, his one secret misting from him,
and listen for him – long enough to hear the wolf
of him singing, his flanks on fire, his ashes sown.
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Photo by Geoff Llerena /Flickr