The Juggler in the Garden

1

Hades cups the snow in his hands,
squashes it tight to form a ball of bright
white ice.

He could spend his forever like that
if it weren’t for a longing, deep and hot
as a volcano’s heart
and just as wild.

2

The garden was frozen to ice last night.
All the fruit, all the flowers wrapped in rain
that stuck with the cold.

The cherries have kept their color, look
like the baubles given to an ancient god,
the flowers hold their shape and their green
but not their scent.

The brown earth around the roots
has grown cracks
as if the weight of ancient age
had come upon it.

3

Hades keeps his snowballs like a juggler.
They fly, fall, pass his hands, and fly again.
They don’t remember the slow dance of snowflakes;
they fit the shape of his hands, they fit his hands’ shape
perfectly.

4

Sometimes, maybe one out of a thousand,
there is a fruit untouched by rain.
It freezes lonely, freezes without company
and bursts its skin beneath the weight
of cold.

There is no red juice trickling onto the snow,
nothing of that sort, just things torn from the inside,
a sharp pain caught in ice
and a cry that never came
because this throat was filled with ice.

5

Hades never rests his hands. And they are nimble,
not one snowball dropped in all these years.

And yet, as white fades into white, breath to ice,
he wishes he could hold his cold inside him,

wishes he could touch a fruit, a flower — anything
the garden grows — without the threat of frostbite;

His heart is not that cold that fading wouldn’t make him suffer.
Hades bends, picks up a frozen cherry,

hides its red in snow, ball within ball. Swifter than thought
he gives it flight, a heart wrapped tightly in snow’s fresh light.

[Alexandra Seidel writes poems and stories about things that are … real. Kinda. Her work can be found at places like Lackington’s, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and others. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: http://tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.]

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