Earth tumbles sideways, and
I lay in heavy snow.
I swallow deep breaths of cold night air.
It is painful to breathe as
I face blue-black sky.
Stars, brightest before dawn,
cluster above me, and
dance like a whirligig.
I think I am breathing deeply.
I am not.
My ribs feel to bend and crack
and I clutch at my chest, move my arms.
The small exertion does not lift me up,
it does not ease the pain.
I understand, and I try to call out.
I can make no words,
only a puff of vapor that
dissipates into exposed brick.
What time is it?
I cannot make much sound,
and it is difficult to move.
I wonder when someone will see me.
The arc of the streetlight,
blocked by the maple tree.
I should have cut it down last fall.
Lost to a shade tree?
Marguerite will not wake for an hour.
She will be alright, so will the kids,
families of their own now.
What was that poem?
Third grade, no fourth.
I read it in class.
Billy Herschel hit me with an eraser
when I finished.
The wet snow was too heavy.
I see the plastic shovel
upright in the drift.
Uncle Nick went like this.
Dumb bastard, I knew better.
I hear car tires rolling noisily down the street.
I lift a black glove and move my hand.
My ribs stab at me. It is too dark.
I cannot see her. She cannot see me.
I let my hand fall deeply into the snow.
The crystals make their way under my collar.
It is cold, very cold, and it feels good,
keeps me awake, as I feel very tired,
pushed mightily, deeper into the earth.
My watch. I am not wearing a watch.
I will not know what time I will die.
I think to blow puffs of air into the sky,
and I hope that someone
will see the tiny smoke signals.
I smile at the thought.
I hate to dance.
Embarrassed to dance,
embarrassed all my years,
and there is now little time.
I hope there is time.
I am sleepy.
I think of my dog, gone some twenty years.
I see his paws, his gray muzzle, and
his last three breaths.
A single sparrow finds the telephone wire.
It is dawn,
my eyes are closing,
and the dark is warm.