My father’s flashlight led me down a flight
of the trapdoor stairs that shivered on their springs,
and there in the basement, the icebox was our lord,
our great provider, fat, white, streamlined
as a Studebaker or bathosphere, stuffed
with what it takes to survive a nuclear flash,
should it arrive. Here, he said. We will be okay.
Everything will be okay. And I trusted him
because I had no other, and winter was a place
I could not touch. Every white the chalk
that frames the flesh gone missing in the blaze.
Every vision broken and still we dreamt, cold
now as Russian children whose fathers ran,
confused, with torches through the fabled woods.
Every flag had a little red in it, a little hammer,
radiant as rubles and minarets and hospital
chrome, where the patient in a nearby room
lies, so deep asleep he could be dead, or wasted,
heavy breathing through the mask, deep as ice
in the eyes of the damned, and no one is the wiser.