Years ago I lived where there was snow,
felt its soft breath held in the cold,
open throat of the sky, heard its voice
falling, so like the murmur drifting
from the hospital room during your
slow, relentless fading.  When sinking,
kneeling on the frozen ground, snow
became an Extreme Unction, stark as
the sacramental exhalations in a corridor
where my apprehension waited, still
and watchful as a pond in mute light,
beside numb green walls and the deadfall
of medical equipment, dulled from lack
of hope.  Through the doorway of another
room I saw in bed the winter-bone of a tree
with birds’ nests tangled in its crown, grey
as days into which snow’s voice—low,
fragmented, wild—would sometimes fall,
until all was silence.  I must have lived
where there was snow, remembering so
clearly, as I do, the white folds drawn across
the wasting face of winter, remembering
the sad, bright quiet of an unfamiliar land.

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