Every night, I go back to Mr. Jefferson’s place, searching still
his kitchens, behind staircases, in a patch of shade somewhere

beside his joinery & within his small ice house, till I get down
that pit, lined with straw, where Mr. Jefferson once stacked frozen slabs

of river water until summer. Then, visitors would come to him
to ask about a peculiar green star, or help him open up

his maps. They’d kneel together on the floor, among his books
lavish hunks of ice melting like the preserved tears

of some antique mammal who must have wept
to leave Ablemarle, just as I wept when I landed in Milan

for the first time, stone city where Mr. Jefferson began
to learn the science of ice houses, how you dig into the dark

flank of the land, how you seal the cavity. Leave open
just one small hatch through which I might lift, through gratings

Mr. Jefferson’s cold dressed victuals, his expensive butter & salads
the sealed jars sweating clear gems of condensation, white blood

appearing from warm air, as if air could break & slough, revealing
the curved arc of our shared Milan. There, I wore silver rings

on each thumb. I studied & spoke in fine houses 
of ice. I knew a kind of crying which sealed me to such realms

for good. Old magic weep, old throb-in-throat. How much
of my fondness for any place is water, stilled & bound

to darkness?

From White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (Sarabande Books, 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Kiki Petrosino. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Sarabande Books.