Death is stubborn this year,
and by now has shed all its christmassy vanity.
The sky is painted a plain Jane shade of heather and the mercury is shy—
Spring has come only to the calendar,
but this is rebirth North Dakota-style:
The newborn is born ugly, shivering or born dead
or not born at all—
all just to illustrate the ignorance of certainty?

An iced-over stew of last year's leaves lines the gutters.
Last summer's wishes for temperature plunges come true.
It is colder for expecting warmth.
Buds don't bud.
Daffodils don't daff.
Heather doesn't doesn't. Tomato
plants panic and die and shrivel and rot and go away.

It is the time one finds a spot of blood on an egg
and one is tired of seeing one's breath.
My sister writes she's been crying a lot lately.
Trees don't fatten.
Birch bark flakes and birds huddle and cry.
The cat doesn't shed—he knows.
The water in the glass an elderly neighbor leaves her teeth in
has cooled cooler still overnight and the set of teeth
shocks her gums in the morning and sends a chill through her body.
She dies.
Nothing blooms.

Not nothing, but less yet—
there, in the shame-filled room,
spilled children, there, at the writing table
the muse implodes—






Lars Tunbjork. Next three images from the Office series.

Coutesy of John Kenney

Stockbroker, Tokyo, 1999