what strange light astride me
strobing winter’s forlorn code
between aged piles of peeling birch
brittle colonnade, keeping secret
summers not seen in years, nascent heat
to stir the shards in winter’s light.
the torpor of the jaundiced skin is
poor, thick in dried veins, veiled lethargy
in the onion smell, bulbs brown beneath
the snow and somewhere deeper
the plaintive shriek of shifting ice
drifts from left to right.
as I child I tread the surface of a pool
of wraiths, unfurling knolls of steam where
water palmed its cloth against the air.
who is it treads my shadow
thin imprints of a footfall haunt
the path behind, some distant throat
carves song into the bitterness
gunmetal braids of glass soprano
vibrato the frost cracks.
the birch slough off their whitest flesh
and waxy fingers heap the piles
a pyre, if fire could be here lit
from bark and bird, and needled pine
a single stony leaf, long fallen.