post-hysteria

 

we have arrived at this solemn and unsettled place

where half of my body has atrophied like the quiet

still of a frozen river; a salmon dead in motion

 

in a chunk of white ice — lonesome streak of slick

pink skin, prime meat. before me, a gray wolf

gnaws at its own hind leg, the phantom salmon

 

watching it eat with that everlasting bulbous eye.

we shiver — our fingers blue by day and black by

night — melting the ice and cooking the fish over

 

dying flames. we eat with our bare hands, catching

the stars that spill from the gills of the final salmon,

and mary points out the milky way galaxy in its

 

streams of brilliance, rainbow fractals, glowing

holy and alight, framed against a thousand years

of winter. in spanish, the milky way is la viá

 

láctea, the way preceding spilled milk — roads before

snow, brown life before white saturation. and now, here,

on the third day we emerge from our frost bodies

 

to again eat the slick salmon and later, shrouded

in hunger, the wolf starving just like us. mary’s

hands shake, cradling the skinning knife like

 

the mouth of the river holds frozen water curled

up inside itself — like us, the river chooses each

night what it must carry inside its crooked body

 

to survive  and what, like our hunger, we

must relinquish to make it to the next galaxy

where we may yet outlive another frost.