death

None better dressed than I


Such cheerful rags; much my maker made of me

And yet more in fortune gave, until time’s fickle Chanticleer

Called his third of a vernal April’s day, upon the dew still glistening

Or so I contend – no matter the hour, I went with the dawn

Betwixt her red clouds scudding

~

Elizabeth Cook, 2017

Painting by Thomas Kinkade

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Length of Stone


They didn’t listen
When I tried to keep them from the stone
It ground along its groove
And at the sounds within
They mistook dread
For wonder flickering in my eye
Shuffling, he came out as promised
Outwardly hale and yet
I smelled the rot on his wrappings
He smiled at them
And I knew that his smile was
A skull strumming threads of flesh
He would turn to me next –
Realizing this, I evaporated
Back under the hangings
Milha said,
He could follow you, you know
But it had been a long two years
Walking behind him
Now, I held the length of my stride
Dearer than unsought miracles
I tied my bundle tightly
And went out into the desert
~
Elizabeth Cook, 2016

Gravekeepers


https://i2.wp.com/en.es-static.us/upl/2013/01/Jupiter_moon_Pleiades_snow_diamonds_Timothy_Boocock_Norway_10-30-2012.jpeg

Champ and stamp and plough the way

No drifts may bury hallowed graves

Though flakes in doubled flurries fall

And moonlight casts its silent pall

We sweep and leap and claw away

To bare the shallow, stony graves

For one is yours, and yours entire

And one is mine, in flood and fire

And one is the grave of Aristo

Whom all have mourned but none have known

His are the softest falling snows

And his are the winds that cease to blow

But champ and stamp and clear the graves

And sing and croak the cold away

The moon spares naught for Aristo

Nor do the sparkling veils of snow

Elizabeth Cook, 2014

Orison – 4


Continued from

Orison

Orison – 1

Orison – 2

Orison – 3

~

Even without sight I could tell as the house loomed and I was borne within.

I could only act as myself in part, and could be nothing more than what I pretended to be. On this my life rested. My eyes flashed open once inside, and with a cry I let out all the fear that had been building. The man carrying me did not so much as miss a step. The house was great and empty, and I froze in awe at the room he brought me into. It stirred memories too old to recall. Cushions littered the floor around a low mahogany card table. Divans made a half-circle, and a great harp stood behind them.

I wriggled free. I think he let me do so, for there was no other way out of the room, and I scrambled away across the cushions until there was nowhere left to go, and there I sat drooping but wary, exhausted by the effort. (more…)

Orison – 3


Continued from

Orison

Orison – 1

Orison – 2

~

Before a year had passed I was restless. Balsa knew before I did; I saw her watching, and was at first puzzled by the new lines around her eyes.

We were in the kitchen, peeling roots. I thanked her again for all that she had done for me, and asked how I might repay that debt; she replied that it was only right to settle debts before leaving a place. And she set me to bringing in the washing, and taking inventory in the cellar, and cleaning the baths.

It went on for some time. Until Balsa struggled to find new tasks for me, and wore an expression that made me sad and guilty.

I avoided her eyes and their lines. I wondered if it was wrong to go – I hoped that I might stay. But men had made roads that went north, and even had there been no roads I would have been forced to go that way, lest I live without deserving each breath.

Spring turned to summer, and one morning Balsa gave me a bag.

“It is best to go when it is warm.” She kept her face blank and I was torn. (more…)