for burning

the year is out. time’s up.
and you, empty as an hourglass,
gave and took from us
things too small to notice.
grains. pebbles of glass.
expressions filed away.
hopes stored up.
images we will not recall
without compensatory
edits, denial and regret.
when we called children for dinner,
we were calling for you.
when isla ipsey passed,
we were being strong for you.
when we knew hunger or joy,
you gave those things a name.
you touched them. we were grateful.
small things add up, however,
so much attention, such
a figure in our hearts, and now
you are the one in white,
fasting in the old priest’s chambers,
the one on whom we have turned,
shifting the weight of disappointment
onto your shoulders:
the dry wells
and cows
and fields,
the sudden fires,
isla imbar’s grief.
it shows in the eyes
that linger low and safe
on dirt, shoes, the wall,
an abandoned comb.
guilt inadequacy shame hurt longing —
once we shared all these,
now your shoulders and your eyes
pull the bulk of the weight.
can you see me now?
do you hear? i must leave soon,
do you understand? i must go,
only let me say this,
only hear this:
you have become
the great turning of the tables,
the virgin offering, meant
to buy us some time with the gods,
a little longer stay within these gray walls,
a short reprieve at least
from the dust of boredom
and the stench of self, exposed.
as such, you represent relief,
our highest hope.
we envy you. be strong.
this too is love.


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