Pantherwife No. 2

Leadenly world slides the hours through the slot of the sunlight and clouds. The sky has been missing for days. We burrow beneath our blankets, rustling and shuffling. We tuck our knees beneath our chins, then bury our noses between our knees. The hiss of the space heater. The warmth of our own sighs, bringing brief relief to our chilled thighs.

All this aims to stave off the one fact: it is cold. It is frigid. It is chilly. The air makes the Pantherwife’s knuckles bleed. It nips at the prophet’s exposed nose. No bundling is enough, until it is too much; then shed the layers and shiver until you bundle up again. World without end, amen.

Shut the shades, but this will not keep out the cold.

And what, asks our irascible friend, does this cold signify? For once, nothing. Just cold. Just something to hug ourselves against.

But like the best medieval allegorists, we will squeeze a meaning out of it. What does this cold signify, brothers and sisters? It signifies that state wherefrom we must be saved. It signifies the imperfect healing of a broken heart. It signifies the gap between how I mean to love you and how I limply love you. It signifies the natural abode of that wolf. He is black so that he may blend into the void of space, the outer darkness. The fires that burn there are not hot, as the poets of old believed, but cold fires that burn and freeze and break. The worm is made of ice, where that howliday dragon lives.

The world is cold. The men with iron faces and gelatine hearts are busy writing new laws for us, and I will wrap myself up in my blankets and stay a while with you. We are here at the end of the world; is that warm enough to lull us to sleep?

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