The croci crowd against their collar of ice
and arch their striped blades above the slush.
Have their bulbs warmed the soil through which
they rise, or has their violet wash shamed
the cold crust, shushed in its gray rack of lace?
To live in a place where the unshakable despot
of weather presses its cold barrel to your spine
is always to have a good excuse
for the knuckled under view. How long ago
was it that words folded under the avenue
of fallen snow, whole tomes buried
with the tumbled trash of a last meal
taken in the air, a purple ball lifted
from the toe of a child in some former year,
the pulped roll of news no one will heed
now that its inks have lost their lattice?
Somehow, we’ve inched along
under the heavy layers, allowed them
to obliterate the hot knob of what was
or might have been, abandoning first the ear,
then the nose, the tongue, the finger’s
nest of nerves until only the eye
remained, filling and emptying of light
in a rhythm not unlike the redundant
hum of a sound track to a film where
the would-be hero and villain whirl
with ennui until the city is all smoking ruin.
In a place where death always arrives
too quietly, these croci in their dirty cape
are nothing to the marvel of the old man
across the alley who aims his pick axe
at the wall of bouldered ice behind his car,
splintering the cold meteorites with the whole
force of his shaking torso, scattering them
in the road like wadded drafts of a scribbled
complaint, a cry of pain so temporal
no one need read it at all.
Front page image by Linda Peall.