The Winter King

The Winter King

Fifty years we raced around
Each other in this house,
My hands now too clumsy
To make a fire, too bone-cold
To light the lanterns without
Burning my fingers,
My arms log-bound –
No more wood for the fire

Fifty years I have sunk
Into my armchair sipping whisky;
Five hundred times shovelling
Snow from the roof and
Chipping ice from your heart –
Each winter arrived earlier
And far colder than the last;
Each year, wolves howled louder

Stiff-collared as an undertaker
The Winter King
Slinks across splintered floorboards
While you gut fish
Running a fever
The refrigerator growling,
Our ivory-yellow teeth
Rattling in a glass on the sink

Finally you notice the plants are dead
He has filched their sunlight
With flawless dexterity,
His pale arthritic hands
Laying out stiffs in the attic –
Lame as a drunk, he slouches in
With a bottle of embalming fluid
And offers you a drink

Patrik Gryst 2012

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