A Poem for Sunday

After Canto XIII of the Inferno

Dennis Stock / Magnum

we were waiting in the spring
for our bodies to return
waiting in the fall
and waiting in the winter

for the dead to see our shadows
the forsythia exploded
was it dew or was it weeping
there was hell smeared on our faces

in the morning
as we mixed the silt with blood
you could wash it off with anger
it was there again that evening

we collided with the future
was it spring or all desertion
the risk, the total starlessness
the branches and the broken thorns

the dead arrived to ask us
and I went outside without you
when the winter came I lost you
when the spring came

through the hurrying doves
was this our punishment
come here and look
the clematis is fragrant

see it climb the trellis
where the soul was
the surface of the river

fills with light, the spring
already fading
are they questions
are they prayers