Third Poetry Portfolio

from Winter

By Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell

My prayers are buried
in the bog—coins over eyelids
in testimony for sight
not of this earth.

You are not alone in your room—
Death never leaves,
once it visited you—it remains,
dies anew each day,
swells with each life taken,
eats all the space in your brain,
sits heavily in the house
with a belly full of your friends.

Men and women spend
their lives in a quarry.
Each one crafts a single stone.
What is left of the carver
after the task is done
remains hardly told—
stories barely heard in nights
birthing ghouls—
it is then that the sky intervenes.

The alert is sounded—
children scatter their games,
rush over—they gather
at the edge of an abyss—
ants around a pool of sweet milk.

Lips of my house are iced—
Winter bares its broken teeth—
leafless trees drawn in a bleak light
lay down their cross
shadows on the stiff
snow-patched lawn, sharp-edged
like metal swords of old
crusaders shivering on their deathbed.

Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell ( is a poet, painter, and short story writer, whose poetry has won the Grolier Poetry Prize and the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Her collection The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti won the 2010 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

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