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If It Must Be Winter

Not crowns,
not conquest defined in terms of how many fear you, or
fear to say otherwise, not by these
will you know your own royalty, but in smaller ways, how
to the least gesture there’s more power than seems reasonable,
though it will feel deserved…So I was told, and they have not
proved wrong. I’ve but to open my hand,
bees come to it, the slick fur of bees
assembling as toward an honor in no way expected

though each time the honor remains mine, as if
almost it should, as if certain privileges had to do with destiny –
Do I believe that? Do I? My hand a sea
across which the wings of the bees flash
like signal-flags whose patterns, instead of translating,
I make up my own translations for. I shall do as I please.
As a lovely argument can make a difficult truth
more clear, if not more sweet, though is there not
a sweetness to clarity that can almost make the truth

seem worth it? To say I’m not quite sure makes me no less
king, here. Sometimes, I open my hand and there’s no sea at all,
just a windy plain, what appear to be dust storms crossing it
turn out, on reaching me, to be the disappointments –
all of them – that I never intended, each one
on horseback, my cavalry, each face
raised toward mine, as if awaiting command –
hungering for it. Forgetful, or stupid. I can see
no difference. Look away from me. I haven’t said you can look at me.