Gaylord Brewer

Sometime after the Killing

Penance, mourning, frail necklace of resolve,

all long discarded. When the blade of sky

eases against the throat of what I decided is dawn,

when internal fire is ash and I feel, again,

chill other men feel, I stand, dark in my nature,

and shake free the painting of snow.

Study briefly the cold harvest of my fields —

Diamond glint of steel. Hand clenching hoarfrost.

A stiff boot. Their ice-kissed faces — their final

frenzy, carved forever by the lesson I bring.

I care nothing for this world or its hills of dead,

for prayers drowned in the red tide of my eyes,

nothing for what gods have so blessed me.

I decide what is south, continue across the glacier

totaling this rough world — solitary soldier, ant

circling on a cube of ice. Earth buries its own;

the ant steps always beyond its trail,

signatured in blood, blown clean and blind again.

I remember my mother, or believe that I do,

rocking me under dreams that smelled of salt,

where pale birds screeched as they dropped,

beaks furious against a sun that rose

and set like a brilliant clock, where the warm sea

used to be, and we lived until the storms.