winter ceremonies

C died months ago, far away. 

I read the news on a Saturday, so many Saturdays after the actual passing 

I cannot bring myself to count them. 

The message had waited quietly in its digital envelope, 

dusted by the electrons

perennially swirling in a realm where rumors and facts and photographs are stored. 

Because I want to add more beings to the word,

(correct the human subtracted, as if that were possible)

I personify the electrons

 – Ria, Skye, Thaddeus, John, Marcel –

naming them like elves then 

thanking them for keeping all our data ever-lit and tidy 

for doing the work we are too big, 

too tired

to accomplish.

It is a Monday. I try and forgive myself 

for my lengthy unplugging,

for living in the twilight of news and social media.

My sister and I light the candles –

hers in upstate NY, mine in New Orleans – 

and we realized we were entering 

the longest night of the year. 

In her world 

(calf-deep snow) 

people in her neighborhood wrestle the dark quietly with votives in the snow.

In my world

(gloves optional)

we busk against the loneliness, making ourselves heard, then seen.

In C’s world

(please tell me)

there is the forgotten dream of our mess.

Elves are generally unnamed in stories, 

and I think this is not only an act of narrative distancing

but a small tragedy as well. 

To work in the darkness, unsung, is 

to see only the back of the lover’s head

to know the air rushing through the closing door

to hope that even if no one could touch your dying hand, 

we revolve around your memory

charged with the radiance of a brilliant life

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