Scattered Snows, to the North

Does it matter that the Roman
Empire was still early in its slow
unwinding into never again? Then,
as now, didn’t people burst into tears
in front of other people, or in private,
for no reason that they were willing
to give, or they weren’t yet able to,
or for just no reason? I’ve never
stopped missing you, I used to

practice saying, for when I’d
need those lines, as I assumed
I would, given what I knew then –
nothing, really – about things
like love, trust, the betrayal
of trust, and a willfulness that’s
only deepened inside me, all
these years, during which I can
almost say I’ve missed no one –
though it hurts,
________________________to say it…

Honestly, the Roman Empire,
despite my once having studied it,
barely makes any sense to me now,
past the back-and-forthing of
patrolled borders as the gauge
and proof of hunger’s addictive
and erosive powers. But there were
people, of course, too, most of them
destined to be unremembered,
who filled in their drawn lives
anyway – because what else
is there? – to where the edges
gave out. If it was night, they lit
fires, presumably. Tears
were tears.

Reproduced with kind permission from PN Review.