The cold eats through your bones,
the blinding snowflakes freeze your beard,
and leather straw and wool have lost their power to warm.
You stumble on on feet of lead
a roaring fire, a waiting wife
the only impetus
for that next agonizing step.
A feather bed of snow
beneath the wind,
you lay your quiver knife and axe aside
Fifty centuries of calm blue ice
muffle with equal ease
an army's thunderous tread,
the whisper of a thought.
Asleep you lie
as Hannibal passed by
fooled by Rome's eternity
and Christ fished
in waters deeper than your sleep.
Your changeless dreams
a simple hut on legs beside a lake
a meal of fish and grain
a family to pass your memory down.
even the lake has long since gone.
The ice withdraws
and leaves you naked
in our questing glare,
an ancient man so primitive
and yet so much like us.
We probe in awe
the arrow in your back,
the sacred marks upon your skin,
each tiny seed of gruel from your final meal,
and catalogue your trinkets tools and garb
as through those hollow eyes
you watch our petty quarrelling
I want to touch your face
feel the skin's dark leatheriness
let you know I am alive
Maybe then you will awake
and forgive us
for killing you.