At the computer struggling with a poem,
I imagine you examining a child
who has surrendered to the weight of her own bones.
The protocol has failed, and the oncologist will send her home
where her psalm-swallowing parents will wait for her to die.
And though you understand, you curse your faith
and my lack of it, believing that any caress
might bear a sufficient dose of hope.
But vodka is not served in the gingerbread house;
crows have already lighted on the roof
and weevils spoiled the grain. The starlight
is counterfeit, and a phantom poses
with his sickle beside the last wolf in the forest.
The poem I am writing will not speak itself.
It cannot save anyone or transform the world
because it is about omissions:
the unrepaired watch, a broken bike,
some father pulling on mismatched boots to drag
a doomed child’s sled through the snow.
My poem, when it comes, will be a dispatch
to cows returning home, an ode to firewood in free verse,
one that renovates labor into a daily sentence
spun from grammar’s broken glass.
It will not be a monument to a martyr or saint;
this poem will not contain any living person.