She lies in darkness,
a pale lantern in her arms,
pondering the meaning of white.
Woodlouse feet crackle.
Earth shifts to gyrations of worms.
Her world grows warmer though at night
it freezes and cracks with whispers of ice.
Images fill her mind of another world
where she might have walked
tepal-fingered amongst green shoots,
seen a hunched spider throw off
frost and clatter up a wooden fence.
The next day a foot of snow’s numb silence.
The meaning of survival the white
in her arms she hung out,
many shapes in a spider’s fractured eyes.
The melt: white hot glow of a translucent sun.
How she longed to wilt but stood firm,
bringing back her gift.
Now the count of a woodlouse’s
flickering heart summons her to return
with the sun she cannot abide and cannot resist.
The lantern she must hold
through the snow
the story of her survival,
white as the sun in her eyes and perilous
as her last task and the insects who love her.