Fog by Wade Fox

Fog

It’s cold in the morning
and damp. The kettle
ticks on the stove
as I warm my hands
on a mug of tea.

Beads of water
form on the kitchen
panes. I sit
at the table gazing out
and wipe my palm
across the glass,
revealing a world
dulled to gray.

On the grassy slope
down to the river,
adrift in fog,
dark oaks
claw at the sky
with ragged limbs.
Below, the river,
thick and black,
snakes past.
For a moment, I
feel it tighten
around the house.

From my window,
on clear days,
I can see
his grave, in the flat
expanse of the cemetery,
punctuated by
headstones,
amid the orchards.

How he broke,
became small,
slow, shuffling
down the hall,
his bones pressed
through his skin.
He muttered fearfully
as he lowered himself
into a chair, the man
who could work
in the field from dark
to dark. When he could
not rise from his chair,
how feebly he raged,
raising his shaking
fists, like knotted
branches in the wind.

At night he cried
from the pain, showing
his yellow teeth,
spittle on his lips.
He forgot himself
before he died,

all gone except animal
heat and obstinance,
frail and quiet,
panting, his hands
curled tightly,
dry. I held
them in mine
as he stilled and died,
a weight I couldn’t
carry in the end.

It is early still.
The fog settles
over the earth. Only
the harsh laughter
of ravens in the tops
of oaks breaks
the silence. The land
has a bleak and deathly
beauty, like a battlefield
after the corpses have
returned to the soil.

Across the river,
the crowns of the orchards
rise above
the fog, stones
in a perilous harbor,
and far away, over
the swirling clouds,
the lights of living
homes shine.

by Wade Fox

Editor’s Note: This image heavy poem starts deceptively mild, but then the middle of the narrative rises up and to punch the reader in the gut. Grief is complicated and fierce and inescapable, sometimes.

2 thoughts on “Fog by Wade Fox

  1. Written with such seemingly effortless honesty. This poem has great purchase on my emotions with its gentle unfolding of narrative and mood. Every word clicks. Bravo.

    Like

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