by Joshua Gage

Some shadows, you sons of Ash, hold against the day
or here among the fog of your breaths.

The hem of light from the tallow’s burning sways
the fleece of winter, which the darkness summons

like she who treads a slow path
between icy trunks and evening stones,

marking her knotted hide with sallow tapers
but stinging your crippled nights with hail.

Patience, for there along her peeling bark
mistletoe anoints her breasts with its berries

and the shadows, you daughters of Elm, feeling hunted, run
beyond your blood-soaked pine to the horizon.

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-​​length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was recently published by Sam's Dot Publishing. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.

If he were to be plucked from a pond by a miller's daughter, only to magically turn into a musical instrument, that instrument would probably be a banjolele twanging out ballads and stories from Appalachia.

This poem was written in response to this image by Desirée Isphording.

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