Tomas Venclova - * * *

Half a mile away, where the highways cross,
A flame is struck up by a range of flint.
The ice, quivering above the springs, thaws.
And the reflection of the ash grove doesn’t fit.

It’s still too early for the bitterest stroke.
The banks will harden in transparent mist.
And even God, once simulating smoke.
Will dissipate. But that is not my point.

Believe in winter. Drink the blessed cold.
Take pride in knowing that your home is lost.
Just like the ones who huddle in a boat.
Breathe darkness and the clarity of salt.

Sleep envelops Ithaca’s hills and dales.
And injured children sleep without a murmur.
And only death will finally prevail.
And wet snow, and music, and nothing ever.