from Winter: aphorisms

by Sarah Vap

Someone cries every few minutes in our family
for the past four and a half years. My older son is crying because he has to go upstairs
to get dressed. My younger son is crying because he can’t go upstairs.

King Lear, I tell them,

said Never never never never never. King Lear, I tell them, like all of you

said No no no. King Lear, they say back, their fingers curled

by their noses like sneaky rats, their noses curled
and both of the little boys

walking like creeps on their tiptoes, as if we are each

(I see them signal) God’s loosening spies—


Dada, come ah-on! Says the baby waggling all his fat fingers at Dada. Dada, come on, says his older
brother more clearly. I am the pattern of all patience! he replies. Jesus,

not Lear,

I remind him, first revealed himself a king

at a wedding.

Revealed himself at the wedding, my husband replies,
between the fat and bones

of the king who is locked

inside too many skins.


Between the wine wearing thin
at midnight and the miracle wine—, I declare, became king

of the bride and the bridegroom, king
of that bed. Put ladder

on fire truck? Yes, sweetheart, I continue: he slipped

to the bed of their bodies, slipped to the bed

of their ordinary marriage and between even
those lovers making love, I tell my son, he was king.


_____They were three kings, their mouths touching,

my husband raptures, the lover-kings—.

That marriage,

he throws the fire truck to the floor, pissed, not for lovers!
That the marriage for the pirate to the soldier,

my son continues, and it cuts off their heads.


Where a person might pause—
to stop,
that is the mercy. Child. With no stop
there is no mercy: and our own

lives in it. Women
reveal themselves in children.
reveal themselves in deeds and acts

or even the coherence

of his mind. The coherence

of the mind of the child. Cohering
of the man and the woman or thus

the coherence of the child: to flatten,

to encroach, or to retreat.


Night carries the stars as it turns. As water

is moved slowly by cupped hands—

the family moves through each night: the family is a clear
sphere. Inside all the other clear spheres

and holding within itself

all the clear spheres and all of them turning
clocks. Mama, I have to go potty. Okay sweetheart. And all the moments

of every clock are the unfolding

or the loosening mind. Correct and test

the folds and unfolds

against your life. Mama, I’ll yell
when you have to wipe my butt. Against a broader commonwealth:

of moans, slipping. Slipping through the humans.


Slipping through the animals.

Slipping to the rock— moans.

that you may
or you may not know.


Mama, poop is coming out of my butt.

Okay, honey.

Does that make you real happy?



Slipping, we will lose winter, altogether. Our home, just a few feet
from the melt-off of one of the world’s last glaciers: there will be the moment

when it actually stops.

To freeze, I tell my son, is not the same

as to stop.


Slipping, we will lose winter, altogether. The whole
of the mountain will lose winter.

The mind will lose winter as our world becomes—. Night is the mind

that cools in the earth’s shadow.


We’re held inside that shadow

for exactly the time needed
to distill a particular star out

of the greater light of the sun—we’re held within night

exactly the lengths and cuts of time needed to dim

that mind of the sun.


That’s a pirate fallen into the water.

And that’s a terrible pirate crawling over a log.

That’s a volcano and that is a hole of fire.

The sun?

Yes, the hole of fire.

Tonight the snow

floated upward into
incessant rain while the neighbor’s lost peacock wept

and our cup runneth—it’s true, what they say: the cock

calls out to you and me like a baby sobbing.


And after the long rain.

And after that

a break in the falling— and the long
gray month. And another. And the daytime

barely distinguishes itself from the night. Then maybe
silence as all the parts

move smoothly across and together and apart
from one another. Remember: thrumming,

mingling, windswept, once
when there was only my mind

and no other mind. And only at night and when the night broke
into day— and in the day there was actual light.



is what showed the way

to the New World: the stars commanded this way. Oskar,
oh, little son of the sky— son holding the fat baby son’s hand

through the snow: we point out the milky way. Oskar, I tell him,

the mind of night and the mind of light, they

brought us to this. Brought us this reciprocal looming unreadable map

we point you toward.

They made us this way.

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