Out of somewhere we don't know comes less than
zero. This shrouded hour is so cold that
coyotes quiet among the Cimmerian
spruces they call home; mountains crack open.
This is how it ends—world warmed, wrought so
by our hectic hands; ice born of hordes;
inside-out weather. The spent planet freezes
bodies off its grated curves while they sleep.
It's four in the morning; this day will fall
further, then ordain a swathed sun. All
feathers will shiver and stiffen, all song
will cease. We protest; we have done no wrong.
Her car—she no longer controls its mass—
slides across the road, ice directing
precarious journey. Wait, she pleads, in
the blue dark, wait, I had in mind to drive
north, not west. But the aroused vehicle
yet slowly enough that she will not perish—
not this time—in the utterly dark ditch.
Her fingers lightly grip—Like this? she thinks—
the wheel, learning what she knew—that brakes won't
do, not tonight—steer the wheel toward the slant,
relieved to be relieved of accountability.
And there, facing the minor abyss, she waits
for the truck that will come; unfinish her.
Bertha Rogers is the author of Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry). Her translation of Beowulf was published in 2000; and her translation of the Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Poems is forthcoming.