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How to apologize, how to apologize
for so many things at once when,
regardless of my words, the world
will spin at a constant speed.

The bees we chain to their nature
and pull their spoils for ourselves:
they were not the first sign.

The trees that fall without hands,
if only they could catch themselves.

We squabble as the concrete dries.
5 layers of wool
can keep your heat
from fleeing for a
few moments

The branches are
heavy as your feet
with snow

The world is at
your back and
before you and
the white world
unseen will pass
as time takes her

The white world
is at your frigid feet
and steps must be

The cold
it burns

You're burned and
you keep burning
This poem is named for "The Hunters in the Snow," a 1565 oil-on-wood painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Hard to imagine life by candlelight.

Dinner and reading, days of rain.
Fire and its heat. I am used to candles with scents:
grapefruit and fir; eucalyptus mint; tobacco leaf;
sea salt and chamomile; red hibiscus flower.
Hold your hand inches above the flame, feel its itch.

The wick of a wax bedside candle can burn
unevenly and flake at its edges. The wax will
pool at the base of the wick, a reservoir of scents.

For millennia this wick was rapture, a flame
lighting moonless nights and lightly warming
little spaces. We made fire stay put, gave it a
finite life and watched it burn away from top
to bottom until it was dark once more.

Now we light the world with gaudy neon,
pulsing blisters and hulking electric strobes
that do not change. Cold fire in a glass bottle.

These fitful wicks have been replaced by manlight.
I am plastic, c-through

the gnats in my bedroom know as much
they fly into me as though by accident

an impossibly clean sliding-glass door
that upon approach is nevertheless shut

these small things hit my skin
but leave no physical marks

no gnat guts splattered
on my pocked arms

I am not glass but plastic
I can bend without breaking
It is said a trait of an
inadequate man is his
reluctance to admit
that he has done wrong.

You are human and that too
is a hard thing to admit. The
armor you’ve donned and
fastened has loosed at its

The English word care
stems from the Latin curae
which is remarkably close to
cure. I thought you might
like to hear Latin because it
was common for you to tell
me to Seize the day.

It was some summer in August
or something and the coarse
brown mound of dirt aside the
house had caught rain and

We played King of the Hill
and I can remember thinking
what a waste it was to, for a
few fickle seconds, be royalty.
I am inopportunely shy.

I cannot apologize because I know this will not change. Like so many moments (in-between unusually hot seasons for instance) the sweat of ceaseless back-and-forth wears heavy on my nerves. I suppose this acts as penance.

The process of a ***** analysis, for those unaware, is as follows:
—Drive an unusually long distance
—Enter a dingy storefront as quickly and quietly as possible
—Pay your $20 ****-cup processing fee at a counter that smells nonironically of cups of ****
—1)Wash your hands, then 2) lift your shirt, then 3) drop your pants
—Put your mind on Do Not Disturb as you try to pull focus from the man pretending he is not staring at your *****
—Urinate (following an uncomfortably long drought)

When considering all possible alternatives, this is easy. It is benign in all respects. And yet, for the life of me, I cannot shake these shoulders free of worry. Too easy to indulge the mind and its vice-grip on the body.

We aren't ever really in control, are we?
It rained the whole time we were laying her down;

Plucked from earth to elsewhere, some fantasy. She left like water after a rain, running to the sun to again slide down. And it

Rained from church to grave when we put her down.

Soaked the soil, left it muddied. Someone stifled a cry but the wet and cold made it sound like a sinus problem. There was something funny about it, but not in that moment. There,

The **** of mud at our feet was a hollow sound.
"Graveyard Blues" is by Natasha Tretheway, from her 2006 collection Native Guard.
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