by Alix Anne Shaw



Beneath the ground, the garden dies

back along itself, back toward itself.

The lichen is a handprint


hunkered down to stone.

After long use, language

gives out, like anything else:


words grow loose in their sockets,

break when touched. Meaning burns

in the lodestone, the toad’s alchemical eye;


written as a glyph I’ll never read.

It hurts me, as the frost 

scorches the silver stem


of the milkweed, and the garden is unmade.

Now the days themselves recede

from dawn to dawn. The heart’s slow motor


stills. Even the stones retract their moss.

Everything that lives

lives in retreat.