Nathalie Handal
Winter Phantoms

They say a prayer
in the cavern where bows hold residue,
in the kingdom of Antonius
and behind the walls of Cleopatra.

They say a prayer
as farmers conspire, convicts fantasize,
as a shepherd gets caught in a windmill,
and a bullfighter holds his drumbeats tight
in the country of lost warriors.

They say a prayer
in rooms where
men sleep with different women,
lips the color of plum.

But can they feel the pain of others
as leaves tremble in their hands,
as winter comes and stays—
what’s in the broken pieces of earth
as the human face crumbles in the attic.