Phantom Limb

Out in a windswept January night

under the black quilt of sky that is

tucked tightly over the Keweenaw peninsula,

the stone foundation of a barn lies

unsleeping;

instead she’s feeling, like a phantom limb,

the heft and surety of the hay mow,

the ache of splintered barn boards,

the impatience of the rusted tractor,

the balky horse, asleep on his feet,

the saddle nearby,

the last ride finished.

I pass this ruin in the pale winter light,

as if stones were doled out by a giant callused hand

into neat lines in a summer field,

then abandoned for the snow and

the night to hide them,

never having been anything

at all.

The winter sun

slides into Lake Superior at a slant

and I don’t sleep that night either,

the pieces of me that I’ve brought into the world,

and then the rafters, the walls,

all blown away.

I walk through the cold stones

with my eyes closed,

picking one, then

another,

and another,

and again another

before I can make a ring,

before I can strike the match.


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