Derek Sheffield



The animal of winter is dying,
its white body everywhere
in collapse and stabbed at
by straws of   light, a leaving
to believe in as the air
slowly fills with darkness
and water drains from the tub
where my daughter, watching it
lower around her, feeling it
go, says about the only thing
she can as if it were a long-
kept breath going with her
blessing of dribble and fleck.
Down it swirls a living drill
vanishing toward a land
where tomorrow already
fixes its bright eye on a man

The World’s Other Side

In Japan, when you die, they wheel
what’ s left of you out of the incinerator,
and what’ s left of your family takes turns
picking with special chopsticks.
It looks like they have gathered to dine
over a dead campfire, but they are not,
of course, eating you. They are feeding you
to the round mouth of an urn:
only in pieces, Father, to the fire.
In their bright swimsuits,
my daughters spill warm sand over my skin
as I lie still, watching the sun
needle the sky. The baby licks her fingers