Christopher Merrill
Variation on a theme by Charles Wright

Color of holiness, of the first demon summoned
At dusk to watch the storm approach, of her favorite dress.
Black of the origin, black of the end—of what?

The sheathe in which he kept his father's hunting knife
Sharpened on the whetstone discovered in the cell
Of the repentant prisoner who wasn’t spared.

Arc of the tire swing hung above the frozen lake.
Breath of the deadly nightshade. Root and core of the white
Oak split by lightning on their final afternoon.

Shoeblack, black belt, black magic practiced in the back
Room of the inn, where they would go to save themselves—
From what? Black of the origin. Black of the end.


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