Cold descends shimmering yet unseen,
spilling from the dark vault of space
behind a guise of cascading mist
swirling into fog beneath the towering waterfall.
within this wilderness of listless mist
only the shadows of trees are moving.
The sound of hissing behind my back
is the campfire sinking
further into the snow; i think.
The fire warms my naked flesh,
the flamelight and smoke a thin tower
supporting a pale, flickering dome
inside the dense purity of surrounding gray.
the sputtering light projects my shadow,
cross-legged, into the creeping drift
of the dome’s fog wall.
since twilight I have sat as a spirit in a statue
studying the fog’s spinning, halting motion
deep within my shadow’s breathing.
after three days of fasting
i may be approaching delirium,
or perhaps the fire’s heat has failed
to warm the shadow,
but within it, now,
the fog has frozen still.
hang like spider spun lace
within the rigid body of the shadow-form,
and a dull gleam ebbs and flows
across the angular forehead and chin,
framing the darkness where there would be eyes.
the shoulders and arms drape
like icy rain falling
between canyons of cloud,
and from the deeper dark of the shrouded heart
i sense the presence
of an ancient warrior.
i blink slowly, afraid
the breeze blown by my lashes
or the pause in my silence
may break the delicate
fabric of the frozen form.
but there are no words of illumination,
no gestures, no signs,
none of the insight
i had come there hoping to find.
there is only the living stillness
of a warrior’s sternness.
cautiously, i reach out
and firelight blazes in the crystal eyes
for a moment,
but i am left alone,
my hand grasping a skyfull of falling snow.
By Koda | © Koda 1991