If you come to this cold bowl with ladle in the moonlight
and wish to strip the old self away, on a raw, clear night,
some time go out alone, toward the end of the year,
on a solitary road, limned by igneous fires, lit micas
of snow, until you reach a pasture of cattle lowing
beneath a rocky brink on a plain of continuous light;
and listen to the primordial moan
of creatures, sturdy heads hunkered,
that seek comfort in the cold and, not finding it, wander.
Then if you are ready to be broken by a heaven that glisters
like lodestone, make a poultice of this cold starlight
that siphons the heat out of being
and rarifies it, renders it crystalline.
Let heaven anneal your heart and leave it stronger.
Tempered by suffering, if touched,
all that once inflamed you will shatter.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.