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I. Lost on the Long Way Around

Drifting through the dreamscape of snowbound
woods, we’ve passed by so many tranced hunters
frozen stiff, star-frost sparkling in their beards.
Petrified mummies, they pose, forever waiting.
We think we hear their impatient toes tapping
or icicles falling, or the last thumps
of their hearts.

We push on in slow motion, and then
you harden into an ice sculpture on its knees.

My mind wanders only a foot ahead.
I cannot thaw myself from your stare
in its frozen mirror, those cold glass eyes,
their last tiny candles a trick of light
in the black ice of night.

II. Bound at the Waist

The frozen stick together, close but cold.
While you pose forever in prayer,
I make a frigid stump my throne,
breathe out the last thick wishes to warm
my hands as if they could still take what they want,
be set like traps in a not-so-empty forest.
One final flame tugs lower in the campfire.
Starving on our last broken limb,
it sinks into its own hole, leaving
a black shadow on the snow.

We’re waist-deep in these white woods,
too far to see the warm light from windows
or the trail that does not go in circles.
Only snow shows us where we’ve been
and how our footprints come back as empty holes.

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, The Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, The Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press, 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014).

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