A cloud of souls, the mist of all that's gone,
returns to cap with frost the picket posts.
So cold, and still hope burns like iodine.
See now a blanket of white where once was lawn.
December makes our words appear like ghosts.

Who comes in youth again to taste love's salt?
In wintertime desire is cellophane.
Once, boys at school, we played, his hand in mine,
but snowbound forts prevailed, time was at fault.
I scratched his name upon the windowpane.

The tendrils of our heart's desire all weave
an Eden of ice. We eat. Forgive our sin
that leads from wilderness to blank design.
Such tricks, with snowballs up his sleeve,
or hugs for tumbling down the hill, and then,

the glance of God, a fog, so far we fall
into the white and icy glory of His call.
Hold still. The hand of mercy gathers us.
We play again in snow and blue sunshine.
Show me your breath. Exhale. Here's mine.

Robert Klein Engler

ROBERT KLEIN ENGLER was born in Chicago. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands, Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American Letters and Commentary, Kansas Quarterly, and many other magazines and journals. He was the recipient of Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for his poem "Three Poems for Kabbalah," which appeared in Fish Stories, II. He now teaches at Roosevelt University.