It is always winter here:
frost and grey wind and wool scratching the skin and, sometimes, starlight.
Dried leaves come unstuck from concrete
where the snow left them, gasping shapes
waiting to speak of death on Ash Wednesday.
His eyes are iceberg blue, and he moves like a wounded animal,
still and then sudden, without sound,
except shuddering breaths in the crook of my arm.
A mute kiss on the head, and he grips more tightly.
I cannot comfort him; so I don’t.
It is always winter here. We are born under death,
born to be food for lilies that thrust white trumpets out
through the old sockets of our eyes,
our tongues replaced by slender spear-like leaves.
Slowly the bones of the dead become as delicate
as ice crystals. We are so afraid to waste
the brief winter daylight;
we would catch it in bottles and keep them in the freezer
if we knew how.
Cool air, tears dried, a kiss goodbye.
Small things, brief things, are precious; so we die,
lest we be found ungrateful for the life lent to us,
lest the ashes on our foreheads be anything but joy.
It is winter here, before the springtime,
and blessed be God for our sister, the death of the body.