Who are you and what do you want here?
Upon your arrival, birds swooped into the trees,
dogs cowered in the bushes,
and the one cat stepped through her own shadow
on a wall and disappeared.
Because you could only have come from one direction–
across the lake that is not yet frozen–
some concealed their fear of you better than others.
Many took flight, strewing the road with their possessions.
Others emerged to offer you gifts, in vain,
while praying you would not carry them away
across the lake and the forest
to the icy mountains by the sea
where you began the long journey that has left
your eyes, hand, and stomach empty.
Now, instead of hair, black water is flowing
from your head, threatening to flood the fields,
to drown even the swiftest among us.
And still we’ll have nothing to give you.
Not even a name.
Nicholas Christopher is the author of six novels and eight books of poetry. He lives in New York City.
The New Word is a poetry submission column. Poems should be no more that 300 words, with a maximum grouping of three related poems. Before submitting, please make sure every word has been considered and the poem has been edited to the very syllable, to the rhythms of each sound and step.