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Death, you have become so clever.
While I watched, you bagged my father,
mother, but left me
alone—to bury
them, to be their mourner.

I used to imagine you all
got up as a young Cossack, tall
on his horse, openly
vicious. I could see
your face, glee lit. Recall

how you rode in with polished black
boots, sword bright, flashing, to attack.
The setting sun stained
your horse’s flanks, veined,
straining, reined. The sharp crack

of your coming. The dried mud dark
on your mount’s legs, and one thin mark
on your sleeve revealed
where you’d been afield.
Oh, I steeled myself, Stark

against this white page, you can still
disappear, vanish, when you will,
Though you never leave,
yet I can’t conceive
you, but grieve the lost thrill

of the sound of your swift coming.
No, now you are so small, the ring
on my finger slips
over you. My lips
lisp courtship’s opening.

When you came, I heard instead
of thundering hooves, or boots tread,
when you came into
me, I heard the dew
rise. I knew what you’d said,

whose insinuations are no
metaphors. Blood born, you grow
familiar as the beat
of my pulse, the heat
of the sweet fever, slow.

In each dividing or dying
cell. I hear the full moon crying.
invisible stars,
and distant jaguars,
street bazaars, final spring.

Death, you have grown too small for
your own boots, Oh, my conqueror
I encompass you
entirely. Do
you see? You die in me.

(c) 2005 Miriam N. Kotzin. "Cossack" was published in Southern Hum, December 2005.