Jean Eng

Minus Sixteen Celsius

On this night of winter
random angels descend
like the one your body left
waving on snow.

The lake grinds its own ice.
Plate sheet, sutures and drift
build each other and a stone
suspends the process of sinking.

Breath blows crystal
variations on a cloud, snow squall and plume.
You take these impressions home but
they arrive before you.

On glass, frost sends white on white
invitations to your own silence.


The first flame-thumping robin.
Nature is never so sweet as survival.
We've crept out from underneath
opiates of hibernation to blink at luck
shining without a full sun.

Last year's nests remain
cupped between whiffs of cedar.
Porcelain shard, hollow membrane
the undelivered prayer
moistens the mouth again.

By the time our spirits return from
hitch-hiking once across the park
we remember what it was like
never to feel this hidden.
Our future hands hold round, smooth exclamations.

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