The shroud he kept in the middle drawer,
Unwashed, perfumed with the damp
Of the church vault where he lay the week
Before his soul returned. He never
Spoke of what had happened then,
But muttered, The light, the light,
When the bells were rung for matins, nones
And vespers. He never blinked; somehow
We knew it was heaven, not hell,
Who had sent him back to us. He never
Touched his tools again, or wife. He spent
The days immersing himself in freezing water
And letting his garments dry on him all night.
When asked how he bore it, he replied,
I have seen a greater cold.