“Hibrernal” by Megan Arkenberg

“Hibernal” by Megan Arkenberg

We used to imagine summer kings,
golden boys with lightning in their eyes,
hands that seared and scorched, mouths
that tasted of saltwater and green things.
We spent spring evenings with our noses pressed
to windowglass and the pages of books:
we knew to keep watch, knew those summer
boys were liars, pocket-pickers, enchanters.

Autumn was a dark queen, smelling of smoke,
her train whispering a dry-leaf lullaby
across the floors of our bedrooms.
When she passed by, the squash turned black
and crumbled on the doorstep. But it was Winter
that loved us most, left us red berries
on the branches outside the kitchen windows,
covered the hills with soft, forgiving,
swallowing snow. Winter understood
when we wanted to forget.

These days, I know better. Seasons are human
things, years scored and broken arbitrarily
as berries falling from trees or summer
stealing kisses. I can’t shake off
the soft pursuit of calamity
by turning a calendar page.
No reason, I know, that next month,
next year should carry less weight.

Except I’ve creased that page and pinned it back.
Except I’m still watching at the window
for a breeze to shake the branches until
sorrow falls away, petal by petal.
For another page to turn, somewhere. For the whisper
of a white cape to wipe us clean.

Megan Arkenberg lives in California. Her work has recently appeared in Asimov’s and The End is Now, the latest volume of the Apocalypse Triptych, and is forthcoming in the first issue of Agahst.