Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter Diptych

And so you crave something deeper,
richer: salmon, fresh pulled from the sea,
flopping on the slick deck in hard grey light,
the mountains of the islands around you
crested white and fog-wrapped, rising
sudden and close out of the black waves,
the shocked fish blood-red and gasping.

And something more real: to be held,
just for a minute, in falling snow, wrapped
and scarved against the inevitable;
something an old man says in the lamplight,
about endings, and the loss of things.
Brown wool beckons the coughing-cloth.

And something richer, deeper: blue lanterns
of lighthouse cedars, bent beneath hard wind
and horizontal snowfall, till the ice infects
your eyes, and you lose your arms and feet,
but for phantom tingles, memories of limbs
lost like gray cedar logs the tide threw up
onto the beaches, scaled, worn, drummed.

And the rising, the craving, the urge under
hollow cave-trees large enough to hostel
beasts, sought rain-shelter and dripping:
and so you let it fall away, from the last,
to you, your stray hand, cold lips pursed;
and sink; and stand, to get up, walk home,

content to be solitary: and embraced.

Descending lines of violins repeat phrases,
chords, and gestures akin to whirling snow;
a bell rings across an empty white field.

Remember that old summery strawberry patch,
now just a hump under banks of drift and slop,
a lost basket torn shelter for huddled mice.

Even the crows are silent as the trees satchel
and pack storms around their eaves; out of closed
lacquer beaks, not even a trill of recognition.

Cold steel-blue ramparts of rising mist make
fog-angels in the blank field beside the road;
till wind shakes loose a plopping full tree branch.

A lone flute echoes from cedar caves,
the hollowed hills, brisk whips of moss,
following vanished tracks towards silence.

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