She lay on her back next to the fire,
covered in a patchwork of animal hides.
Her flesh, leathery and barren of the fat and muscle
that once sustained her, would soon blend with the earth.
The declivities between her ribs and her toothless gums
only heightened her sense of loss.
She coughed, and her rattling exhalation
delivered a misty offering to the stars.
On this, the longest night of the year,
she used to dream of the warmer days ahead
and fond moments that promised love and purpose.
Now, cloaked in solitude,
she begged silently for the pain to end.