the distance from the earth to the sun


“Trees in the snow,” by Cara Walton Photography

within the hive
pollen-scented darkness
a hundred thousand wings
shimmer faint warmth
into cold limbs

outside, black against snow,
winter’s reaping—
a long low line
of corpses, piled
like fallen soldiers,
or victims of genocide

here in the south
we hear Yankee tales
of bodies in sheds,
kept frozen till the thaw
months later
while grief hangs suspended
in prismed ice

even death is subtle now
decay postponed
the rites of decomposition
put off, earth lean
for want of sacrifice,
morsel held just beyond
lips’ reach

snow is dry
sloughed flakes of quartz
shed snakeskin
drifting over frostbound roots,
catching the light
of a far off star

the distance of sun
from earth
is winter