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Christopher Clauss

Alone With This Chill



Alone in the airport chapel

scrolling through messages

not frequent enough

I never thought I would lose


This divide of us,


This sickness killing you

Me picturing a life 

in your absence

The nerves misfiring

and recalling 

things we dismissed


as permanent

my thoughts reminding me of

how wrong I was

under The last remnants of

reveling in our youth

when we thought ourselves forever friends


Pancreatic cancer

an eternity

that I can not muscle through

at all hours, a prayer we utter 

now that 

The time we have


will pass

before we know it

Your withering form sunken into

too easily

visible bones



I don’t want 

 for this to be the end, this 

never knowing

whether this time

myself as we say farewell whether it will be

the very last time we speak

You told me once about my calling to bear

our memories. Reluctant, I press a knuckle 

this fist to my temple, and the memory leaves

This bitter chill  

reminds me my calling 

was never to betray 

our silence just to knuckle 

down, to cross 

the frozen leaves


This walk leaves 

a bone-deep chill  

up the arms, cross 

my body calling 

every arthritic knuckle 

to betray 


my weakness as I betray 

the serenity of the leaves 

the way my footprints knuckle 

the frozen foliage, a chill  

for which no one was calling 

so today I bear this cross


I am just sad, not cross 

with God, as each tear betrays 

the stoicism, calling 

out to each of the fallen leaves 

that they fall too in this chill  

smeared with a knuckle


too quick to notice, a knuckle 

dragged across 

a cheekbone where it will chill  

and drop, silent, never to betray 

their space among the leaves 

becoming one with the soil, their true calling


Others lingering, their calling 

card a moistened knuckle 

the loss it leaves 

hangs heavy, and I cross 

back beneath your tree betraying 

the warmth I miss in this chill 


The joy in this life, not a cross

sinking into the earth, I will not betray

myself, alone with this chill.

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