Lured by the first snow of winter,
my dead father managed to struggle out
of his grave on the far hill, managed to stagger
down into the walnut grove to meet me
as the heavy flakes fell.
He did not look bad. There
was a grandeur in his features in the half-light of
What is it the snow does for the soil, again?
he asked me. Fixes nitrogen, I answered. No, wait
that’s lightning. I couldn’t remember what the snow
does except for cover the soil, cover us, cover the
living and the dead.
My father looked at me with some pity.
I saw then how his flesh had fallen away, how
his farm clothes were tattered.
I still know more than you do, girl, he said.
I am the watcher on the wall.
Before he died he’d said that,
called himself the watcher on the wall,
and it had meant only
that he watched men in bad suits on TV,
and read prophecies about the world’s end.
It had been an old man’s fantasy,
his final dodging of the truth.
Now I saw that he had found his wall.
His eyes were visionary, at last. Whatever it is
that’s coming for us, he’d seen it.
He opened his mouth to tell and I saw the blue
of bones and
the snow came between us and our voices
were silenced, and he could give no warning.