By The Light Of The Snow
Sometimes, I forget that winter will end,
and I cry, out there, between the huddle
of pines by the woodshed, my back to the house
so my weakness will travel away from you.
This is the last thing my husband
said to me.
The last thing before I found
him cold on the pillow.
I thought it so unusual
that he hadn’t risen
with the sun.
And when I touched his shoulder,
it was frozen heavy.
It took me seventeen hours to bury him.
I dug through the hardly there
light of day, and continued well
into the dark hours, digging
by the light of the snow,
thanking the freeze
for keeping the smell
of his carcass from travelling
through the trees and drawing
the wolves down.
I couldn’t move my hands
for a day afterwards.
It has been a week since it happened,
since my husband forgot about spring,
and perished on his pillow.
I started this morning picking
raven feathers out from between
the cattle’s teeth.
I am relishing this silence
more than I thought I would,
though I still cry after every climax.
I wonder if I buried him right,
or if there was something I should
have said when I was putting him in the ground.
Somewhere, in the distance, I hear a dog barking.
I find myself wishing for them, the townsfolk,
not to find me. I don’t hear the bark again.
I wonder if they prey for us in the town.
I hope not. I want to be lost to memory.
I want them to say they are both part
of the woods now.
Because we both are.
Instead of going mad midwinter,
I make friends with the ghosts,
and read by the light of the snow.
When spring arrives, I don’t disturb
the thin black bears as they forage for roots
in the earth still stiff with frost.
I eye the tall mountains, wonder what
would stand between me and my love
if I were to stand at the top
of the tallest one.
I whistle for the dog,
pack a sack with bread
and the meat my husband
didn’t eat this winter.
And I start walking.
My latest poetry collection In The Hours of Darkness is available to buy now.