But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass
—Richard III, Act I, Scene I
Now is the winter of our discontent
spake the scheming Gloucester,
and, discontentedly we wintered,
pressing flesh to cold glass
to behold the freezing rain glazed
snapping limbs that crackled
through the night. Snow fell,
and coated the ice and turned
the world nice for a moment.
Bedeviled, we coaxed
the shaking puppy indoors
that dogs bark at me as I halt
by them. That there was no lineage
to keep, even better. We did not
descend from stars or sea monsters.
That a piano hammered madly
from the stereo. That we looked
in the mirror and declared Who went there?
It was us, in masks. No, it was a snarling orb.
No, it was a cold spot. No, don’t let
it touch me. In the basement we gathered
provisions. We were six feet under-
ground but not buried
like the coffins 50 yards away
in the graveyard, our rotting peers.
It appears more will join them soon.
In the mirror, a rudely-stamp’d face,
the lake swallowing up the clouds,
an ice-floe jammed against the beach,
an orb. No. A cold and calloused hand
to grab our feet at night. No. The newly dead,
who are simply whimpering. That I am not
one of them, I press my face into
my child’s warm neck, whisper a fable
that ends, Good night ghosts.
Here are your jewels, your laurels, your sheaths,
your coffins, your sirens, money to pay
the hangman and your breathy wreaths.