for my best cousin Ruth Wejksnora
ius pro concubitu nostro tibi cardinis esto:
hoc pretium positae virginitatis habe.
—Ovid, Fasti 6.127—128
She carries no keys. She picks no locks.
The poet wronged her in his homesick almanac—
the words he put down in ink as freezing black
as the ice-scummed shore, the rainy lashing night
hunched on his shoulders like the distance of home,
a rueful laughter in the shutters' sea-wind creak.
Who would deal in straight lines with a god
of double faces? Before and behind she caught him
among the whitethorn, a counterfeiter of ways
flowering like snow in the summer she leads in,
what is closed to open, what is open to close,
the balance of the year on her outspread palms.
For you she does not hold the door open,
beckoning the road the sun lays down in light.
That is your handiwork: she turns to watch you pass.