Best of the Net 2007  

January Thaw

The show runs reruns in sepia:
rust scrub, a dun colored river bed, mostly mud.

This is your past, it tries to mutter,
   raising its arms above its head,
knotting the bedsheet beside it
into a gnarled, tumorous lump.

The sepia show is an orange tinged residue,
or aura from Elijah, with spew from his fiery chariot.
Someone may try to stop this simmer,
crushing a sedative into a paste with honey,
   jamming the sticky mess
under its tongue.

The past will try to protest, cry out its innocence.
A simple ceremony ensues.
A mummified monk is rolled by his brothers onto a linen shroud.
A strap of cloth is fixed beneath his jaw, tied at the top of his head.
He is lowered into the hole.
That is all.
How beautiful, said the woman I told this to. I had never really seen it, except on TV. But
we both had been to the place, and abhorred but were drawn
by the thought of burning our mothers.
We went outside to sniff and hover in the January thaw.
The low sun was barely warm, but enough to tickle our fancy.
We sat on a bench made rickety by woodbee drillings.
The cushion remained in storage.
We sat on the rusted, sagging springs.
Slowly, the bed of ashes rises,
   snakes and snarls
in the foggy mist.

-Ann Neuser Lederer (Segue)