John Oliver Hodges

That freezing day we scaled the slope
to the lip where tracks ran when
the rush was on, bucketed miners
wheeling the mountainside
delivering rocks to the plant.

We found a cave where the tracks,
protected, were intact. The tracks
made interesting pictures, but my
wife would not come into the cave
with me lest the cave collapse.

There were ghosts in the cave, ghosts
showing in the digital window
of my camera, the ghosts of miners,
those thousands of lost souls who
floated the mountainside
looking for love.

Today it was too cold for love,
so the souls huddled in the cave,
warming themselves while peering
at my wife peeling off her scarf, her
coat, her gloves. Crouched upon a
boulder she pulled the laces of her boots
and, shivering, took them off.

Her pants too, and socks. Alas the
ghosts in the cave saw my wife’s
body entirely naked, and they
watched me photograph her
standing in the sun, then sitting, then
hunkering beyond the 6 foot long icicles.

Her teeth chattered, and the
icicles themselves were like teeth,
dangling, sparkling, grinding up this
pale woman’s body, a perfect winter
treat in 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

The stinging cold ripped at her, her
nipples hard pink marbles, her pubic
hair brittle, her senseless toes mere pebbles,
the scree that might cause her to slip.

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