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Schulenburg

 

Mark Cox

 

 

AT THE STAIR

Adulthood’s frost heaves tamped down,
that blank page smoothed,

a last glance up,
palm on the burnished rail.

That night, so many nights ago,
that house still as this one is now,

and you, sleepless below the attic dormer,
your face cold, quilts heavy as soil,

all the wind-burnt children, hearts quieted,
your snow tunnels welling with moonlight,

the farmyard evanescent
with mist and thickening ice.

How many splitting, warping, hand-hewn steps
between there and here, no elders

left at Scrabble around the kitchen table?
Unpoured and prepared again to be,

is this too much to ask?
To come to that young body

as to the mouth of a cave,
to reenter it and find

one’s final shape in the accruing snow?

 

 ASHES, ASHES

Snow. A nit's weight
on the hair of one's neck,
the blessed host of the past,
right there, just so.

Turn into it, this once.
It's time to become the lake surface,
time to claim your face.

Soon the present
will cool enough to touch,
you can lay you down
in the outline you once were,

smoke still adrift
from the original fire.
Cup the moth's spark
in your hands.
Open your mouth and take
the dissolution
on your tongue.

No one else remembers
exactly what you remember.
If you don't carry it,
who will? 

 

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