This is the season in which the lambs begin
to die, in which the boy in his red and blue plaid

shirt gets down on his wrists and his knees to crawl
into the moorland at night and spread a cross of pumice

on their foreheads, in which he reads to them a hymn
like a freighter burning with a cargo of ripened fruit

because in the morning he will have to kill them.
Because in the morning he will wake to find his father

standing in the hall like a horse with a lamp in its mouth
and he will have to wade into a river with only that silence

in his arms, and he will harm them. Because every year
I watch him stand at the threshold of a season and begin

to call them, to hold the ruined bodies of the dead
with only a dim chord of flame between his lips

and to touch them, to touch them
and to be with them, to touch them

and to sing with them, the way a child
touches everything, with the hand of his murderer.

Reprinted with permission of the author.  Originally appeared in Boston Review. Reprinted in Fugue for Other Hands (Cider Press Review, 2013)