Athena Kildegaard: "In the Kirkegaard, December"




The graves here are swaddled with pine boughs

and across the street a woman lights tall candles.

In her window a white orchid blooms.


Men working on a steep roof

came down some time ago—I saw them

at noon, when the sun crested the chimney


—they left the ladders for tomorrow. How easy

it seems—now when daylight is lean

and weather tears at the sky—to stand


balanced before death, to warm a room

with only three flames and a flower.

Someone has been paid to lay the boughs


in quilted patterns around the stones

—the sticky resin and sharp smell of Yule—

to tuck in the dead, the beloved strangers, for winter.



Athena Kildegaard has had work appear in Faultline, Drunken Boat, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Her first book, Rare Momentum, was published by Red Dragonfly Press, as will the forthcoming collection, Bodies of Light.