The Heart of Winter
By Alexandra Seidel
I once lived
and even living, I knew Death,
her soft feet on the earth I did not dare walk.
I once lived and knew
that I would descend into Hel.
Hel, the woman, does not keep gates to herself.
One can enter her unimpeded, without
braving rivers, monsters, pain, or loss.
Beneath the awning of my ribs, she will whisper.
Inside her chest the shadows meet
like Muses making a symphony.
With Hel’s sinews the shadows
string memories around her heart
just like mother would
string stars to trees
in the heart of winter.
Mother, I can see your stars, but I
am not a shadow yet.
Death has no words. Her eyes call me fool,
her hands are so hard…no, just steady.
In twilight, I glimpsed a man with the head of a stag.
There are hearts strung among the stars.
Ask Hel where her womb is and she will cry.
I think she hopes that the shadows know serenity inside her;
She does not know this, but they do.
Do you not remember that you were once like this?
In life alone, I had never seen the man with the head of a stag.
I had thought him to exist, but we think hope have faith,
knowing alone is water in the desert.
I believe I saw your heart hanging in a tree, said he.
And Death, whom I know so well, will not forget me in her smile.
Inside your chest, they have found a home, I tell the woman
who always cries with one eye.
We all, inside our hearts, have a hunger for stars.
The man with a stag head treads
and leaves no sound of his passing in the snow.
Death, sister of shadows, I could never walk where you walk.
This is my road, silently crossing
the heart of winter.
Alexandra Seidel spent many a night stargazing when she was a child.These days, she writes stories and poems, something the stargazing
probably helped with. Alexa’s writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Fireside Magazine,
and elsewhere. She’d love it if you followed her on Twitter @Alexa_Seidel, liked her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Alex