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The Curtain

Written by: Hayden Carruth | Biography
 Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and

One can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-

 renewing field of corpse-flesh.
In this valley the snow falls silently all day and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in

 our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the

 snow-clad trees
So graceful in a dream of peace. In our new bed, which is big

 enough to seem like the north pasture almost
With our two cats, Cooker and Smudgins, lying undisturbed in

 the southeastern and southwestern corners,
We lie loving and warm, looking out from time to time.

 "Snowbound," we say. We speak of the poet
Who lived with his young housekeeper long ago in the

 mountains of the western province, the kingdom
Of complete cruelty, where heads fell like wilted flowers and

 snow fell for many months across the mouth
Of the pass and drifted deep in the vale. In our kitchen the

 maple-fire murmurs
In our stove. We eat cheese and new-made bread and jumbo

 Spanish olives
That have been steeped in our special brine of jalapeños and

 garlic and dill and thyme.
We have a nip or two from the small inexpensive cognac that

 makes us smile and sigh.
For a while we close the immense index of images

 which is
Our lives--for instance, the child on the Mescalero reservation

 in New Mexico in 1966
Sitting naked in the dirt outside his family's hut of tin and

Covered with sores, unable to speak. But of course the child is

 here with us now,
We cannot close the index. How will we survive? We don't and

 cannot know.
Beyond the horizon a great unceasing noise is undeniable. The

May break through and come lurching into our valley at any

 moment, at any moment.
Cheers, baby. Here's to us. See how the curtain of snow wavers

 and falls back.

Credit: Copyright © 1995 by Hayden Carruth. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press,