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A Lady in a Northern Province


Colorless morning:
    my sleeves are weighted
with waxlike creatures of ice
        --fish, dogs, a white-
        blooded deer—

a thin winter,
    wide with your absence.

I have a carp frozen
    in a wheel of clear ice,
its orange veils of fire open,
its gold eyes wet and hard;
        for two days
    it has stood on a tile
    before my pallet,
        unmelting.

Yes, I love you most in this trial
        of winter;
love you also when the white goat
        looks at me
with sudden intelligence, compassion.
I love you at the pool’s edge
    that bears in frosted mud
    the print of your feet,
        your palm, your hip.

In your absence
I’ve built a tight fire
    which burns like the black wheel
        in a tiger’s eye.
I feed it coal
I feed it my hair, strand by strand,
        so that you return whole
        and undamaged
    bearing a heart that is still mine.


--Richard Ronan
from A Radiance Like Wind or Water
(Port Townsend:  Dragon Gate Press, Inc., 1984)

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