To the Babylonians, he is Shepherd of Anu,

And I walk for days without looking, in frigid 

November air, breath mist before me. He’s ice 

in the atmosphere, frozen by gods as an homage 

to loss, his crystalline body hovers, watchful.

When awash in the phosphorescence of headlights,
shop signs, street lamps, I stand motionless, 

carelessly looking upward, he, now hunter, 

forsakes Lepus and Taurus, straps his hot 

diamond-studded noose around my throat, 

hand refusing to unsheathe celestial sword 

to cut me down. Every dot of his predatory 

anatomy burns to see me hanged, legs kicking 

as I struggle to breathe, dangling in terrible expanse. 

Job’s God claimed that he only could loosen the chords,

but I’m jostled by pedestrians at the faint white glow of 

the crosswalk sign and I must look away, lose myself in 

cadences, feet beating against roadway, flesh and blood 

in overcoats toting rucksacks, walking sticks, each other.

—Phillip E. Mitchell