Oldtimers claim it was
the worst in memory, snow
high as houses, blocks of ice
smashing off roofs, accidents
on the freeway, screams and broken glass.
Some went up the mountain and were lost,
buried forever in drowsy white.
I dreamed of masks, the worst of the century,
the most casualties, massive injuries,
war impersonal. I watched them milling
in airports for the first flight out:
Stalin, Hitler, Tojo, Mao, Khomeini,
Sukarno, Franco, McNamara, Saddam,
Pol Pot, Karadzic, Syngman Rhee.
I had nightmares of you leaving.
So many phantoms rise when the air
grows dark. I tried to
rouse you, explain it was a season
screaming through our evenings that numbed us
so we could no longer speak
of anything but gray.
Now it’s over. My mouth reeks of bombwater,
my tongue of gun barrels. I stare through
the window of radiance and poppies. The clouds
break but snow still sits outside the cavern
of our great doubt. We struggle to wake
and forget; we raise out teeth for sugar.
The anima claws outward for bright.
That is the promise.