Paradise on Black Ice

- 1956-

            Heaven hunts round for those that find itself below, and then it snatches.
                        —Emily Dickinson

I wind
the sheet of elegy

while he's still alive, I can't help it,
I follow his breath while he sleeps,

greet each coming and going,
with an Ave.
                  (Because of how
the quick
become the dead.)

But right now he's showering
with a gospel choir, radio

half on and half off that station.
And today's heaven is half hell,

half whole, half hurt,
hunting every naked thing

with the same harsh delight.

More by Patrick Donnelly

A Postcard of Christ Carrying the Cross,

circle of Giovanni Bellini circa 1505 oil on wood, is what
he fits between his third and fourth weekly pill boxes,

to remind himself to reorder. His routine about the anti-
virals is of greater magnitude, maybe, than the one in which

Mrs. Gardner used to place a vase of violets in front
of the painting, when she owned it. This card’s only

a reproduction of the Passion, not the original. But we’ve seen
how imitation and daily use can make of pity and fear

an almost cozy utensil. The Savior’s torso is pointed
toward the royal climb, but his unreadable eye turns out,

loosing on you, passerby, a tear of blood and milk.

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Scryer's Bridge

Thirteen on ice, skating, I died. Boys dragged soft fields with the lifts in their shoes. We'd gone in search of the other, the fat girl. Hurried to drown her past Hurricane Ridge. White snowed on white, ice over feathers. Cutters knit sweaters, buried alive. Our parents wore dog suits and panted through breakfast. Once she was me. We'd burned her last spring. Girls crocheted scarves, feigned a rope bridge from fringe. Rescue, blue scissors slitting black ice. Blades etched fine nets on the upside-down lake. My choice was speech or a taffeta skirt.