I. THE VISITATION Like a paper with a bent corner, haphazardly stuffed in an accordion file, I was lying at midnight in a hospital room. It was cold enough to keep a yellow rose in a Styrofoam cup fresh for 10 days without new water. There was only a film between waking or sleeping, nothing opaque. Eyes open or closed absorbed the same images. Whether it was a waking sight, or one from sleep, is only surmise. But with quick solidity, it was there, standing oblique to the corner of my bed. Tall as a man’s shoulder, and motionless, his eyes looked straight ahead, rather than at me. I was shivering, as I often did there at night, but seeing this presence, I forgot my discomfort and murmured, as those who are ill speak without sound, “the blue ice wolf”. His coat, as Stevens says of junipers, was “shagged with ice.” Even though friends have told me that my apparition was benevolent, that wolves are protectors, companions, kindly escorts, some part of me thought I saw one of death’s messengers. It felt Egyptian to me, yet neither a jackal nor Anubis of the desert. No, the ice was there, like the diamond chips of it that were my only sustenance that week, shaping or glinting his coat until it was crusted and bejeweled. The Blue Ice Wolf was there to accompany me as I trod underground paths. Now, when I peek out from that place I was a few weeks ago, I see his shadow still alert, watching, not me, but everything that comes near, listening I think to my papery breath that moves and rustles, even in recovery. He is watching over me, as if he is a father. II. INCOMPLETE DAWN I didn’t know until now that he was my Diamond Dog, once born of the ash heap near the orange grove. In this morning’s incomplete dawn, the creature lopes next to my invisible King of Spain. Like feet, soft feet, bare, sponging into the carpet, there is light, outside the window, from all the planets, the cosmos, the blue house where students live. I see open pages of the geometry text and hear Sarah’s coated syllables explain the dancer’s foot pointing out. It’s the bird wing in the arch, though even its extension is pliable and the fractalled knee, all movements shaded, rather than crisp. Hilary saw pillars in her mouth, and Adrien said, “Architecture is power.” Fragments cling to my palate, wisps or rags left on hangers. Cavafy saw the boy’s yielding face, but I look in a mirror and see the bent foot/I want to hold it in my hand, his foot, the padded muscles of Robert’s arms around me/what longing/what is there but touch? Inside, I place one foot over the other, know we always have our own flesh to accept and reassure us in the morning when everything looks ready to — what? — wrap us up in a quilt, keep us warm, notice the toes frothing outward? Teasing air, taking for granted each breath, remembering the softness, even in the blast from the icy polish and shine off my father’s military shoe, transformed into the shimmer of the dog’s diamond print, then the Ice Wolf’s blue paw, finally the King of Spain’s luscious royal foot gloved, glinting gold; and I know that at last he/they’ve come back, and are waiting till it’s time for me to follow them. Any morning, if I glance up quickly, when facing the wood of a Norwegian Maple across the street, I can make out their shadows.