Elegy for

There’s no —what was it?

Cold sparks from the moon Cold flecks of spit
dashed from the wolves’ teeth as they surged
down from the north, ice alight in their fur

I caught it on my tongue, calling its falling “like petals”
“pollen” “pale feathers” “swarms of silver bees”
“like a jillion glassy minnows aswim in the jar
of light below the streetlamp”

An old book compared it to grain
hoarded in heaven’s storehouse
till its master saith Be thou on the earth

(& sometimes it fell slowly, careful as the snippets
dropped by a child’s scissors cutting out
its image from a sheet of paper folded into pleats)

Drifts, we named its gatherings
& we piled it up in poems
on breasts white as
hands white as
cheeks pale as
building effigies of women for centuries
freezing & thawing thawing & freezing

(but I don’t blame it
for all the mouths it melted in)

So did you ever see it?

I saw it many times

You saw it many times?

Many, or once
and once and once and once
each flake “unique” as we liked
saying, tho
what did we mean

was each more singular than any
beetlewing waterdrop dustgrain
magnified more singular than the merged scintillant
irises of anyone I ever swam into
while kissing

A loveliness that more and more
(or less and less) each winter
stung me those specks landing for an instant on
a coatsleeve naked branch horse’s whiskers the gray
wrinkles of the river
swallowing them fleeting as if they hadn’t been