Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Last Things

Last Things

By Martha Collins

Cows' hooves crack, crows
gather, a hard winter

is coming, sure as the Lord, fire
on the plains, bones snap

underfoot in the snow, walking
on bones the spine rises up

up-up! through the clouds that whiten
the sky where the Lord is waiting

with fire in His mouth, take that
and that and you will, oh yes,

you're dancing on ice, the sweep
of the blade, you're climbing

the bank to the little wood hut,
you're warming your hands

by the fat coal stove, there's fire
in the belly, fire on ice! a marvelous

drink, says the lady in red, her hands
are bones, her flesh is a dress,

a transparent dress, you have seen
the bones that wait

by the sink, you can suck
them out, there are worms

in the house, an owl cries out
like a woman on fire, roots

push deeper, cling to the soil but
winter has come, white flames

are falling like snow and nothing
will ever be born or cold or dead again.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Fall 1988), pp. 88-89


Martha Collins Photo by

Doug Macomber

Martha Collins is the author of the forthcoming Day Unto Day (Milkweed), as well as White Papers (Pittsburgh), Blue Front (Graywolf), and four earlier collections of poems. She has also co-translated three volumes of Vietnamese poetry, most recently Black Stars by Ngo Tu Lap (Milkweed, with the author). Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin until 2007, she is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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