The Light We Winter Under
December again. all year a dry weeping took up residence—a corridor,
a dim boarding house, rooms with small white sinks where a girl lived
until she could not. I came to womanhood not feeling a thing.
Like a strong dream, winter light is the fiercest of the year.
It arrives late and after everything, it disappears
as it wakes you.
A letter put off for years gets hastily written
and sent within an afternoon.
It's that kind of light.
On the plaza the Andean men sell woolen caps, mittens
and one-size-fits-all sweaters. Our blunt sun warms the wool,
giving the whole afternoon an animal smell.
I turned the wall calendar to its last page—
a watercolor done by a child sent to Terezin, the stopover art camp
before Auschwitz, no date, no signature.
It happens fast, the sailboat drifting from dark to light in the child's picture.
Hard to tell if it's fire or water, a flame or a tear in the foreground.
What's forming on the other side not yet finished.
Late afternoon, the clouds build flat, western cities.
The sun retreats in them, hidden and southern.
Now the buildings shine with a dark and wordless purpose.
He says, "I've begun to listen for the sound of the train every night.?
She, "There will be no more children."
In the fancy restaurant on the top floor all eyes turn
to the elderly couple slow dancing between courses.
Is it only the long-married and the newly in-love who take
such time, turning everyday chatter and dinner into joy?
December again. The crowd stood and waited a long while
in the line to post their letters.
The self to the self must interrogate tenderly under the light we winter under.
Do you remember crying because you had no language,
because it could not mother you? Does an infant weep?
Can we live inside the dark memory of the body to that long ago?
Sounds of wheels and stairs, wind under the milkbox,
that was you, weeping.
He says, "We have no direction to the party."
She, "now I can say I am in love with you."
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