It’s no night to stray,
steel-wool clouds strap
a starless sky. The heavens unleash
their arctic breath; even death
is not this chilled. Late winter
flakes her crystals to the ground;
winds kick it about in a fury.

We are lost in cloaks of white sky,
blank as air to the naked eye.
Feet crunch into snow-packed earth
as we land and shake
ice from our broom bristles, settle
among the rocks and tors, those plat-
formed crags of the Teufelskanzel.

Iced Pines enclave us, transfigured
as stones strewn about Medusa’s garden.
They descend Brocken Peak
to be devoured by the Harz’s umbrage.
Up here we dance with the crackling
sway of trees, they are raised skeletons
masquerading to the far-off roar of the Weser.

Tonight our pyres will lap at darkness
like a devil’s thirsty tongue,
all Ilsenburg will shutter
their windows— wait for spring
to come. We turn about the flames, chant
each spirit’s name. Winter winds scream
in fear. Earth’s thawing draws near.

© Shawn Nacona Stroud

This poem previously appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the Loch Raven Review.

brocken_vom_torfhaus*The Brocken Peak in Germany is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range.