In the white air, he removed
layer after layer of gauze,
planted his feet,
marveled at how little
the snow gave way.
He breathed in the silence, almost wept
at the thin rustling of his robe.
Nothing existed but the awareness of pain,
the sharpness of snow burning his soles.
Until finally he could see them.
They would come tomorrow,
next week, next year. They would circle
his body which was hard and brown.
They would finger his robe, dulled to the color
of a pale star. He could see them:
Voices hushed and dim in the air,
tongues numb with holy words, callow prayers.
Learning to doubt the pain, he could see
their eyes lift upwards -- past the pine trees' white
stare to where the glint of bird wing scatters the sky.
He could see himself: loosened from flesh,
a silvery fog rubbing the empty forest.
And he knew the people would return home slowly,
a lilting descent into villages warmed by fires.
He was certain they would write down
everything they had seen.