Ice River

Tonight, I fell through the ice.
It’s easy to break into light,
splinter into astonishment.
It’s harder as we walk, though,
along Two River Creek,
as you point out
you skated last week
for the first time in your life.
That you fell, and
he pulled you back.
What is there you’re showing me
between the shadows
of our eyes, adjusting mine
to your darkness, to the clouds
chattering under my grey beard
of breath?
We know what loss is –
the excavation of love. But, is this what
I am meant to find when we step
next to each other in silence,
the wet pearls on your face,
for which I once dove,
giving themselves up as rocky stars
brightly fallen from the Black Sea of
your underground river?

Two Blackbirds

These things we will not say
Roads glide on ice.
Your snowy trees are swans.

Nothing is what it is
Waves are particles,
Your streetlights bless snow.

Or bees.
Or blackbirds that circle winter stars,
Frozen braille reading

Revelation of your body
In the doorway,
Your light, your hair,

Bud of darkness
Across your cheeks
My hands are brackets

That cup the shadows
Of words, our
Imperfect eclipse.

DIY

Remember the Christmas we spent painting the rooms on Beverly Street? I stole Remember the Christmas we spent painting the rooms on Beverly Street? I stole some cheap-ass cans of paint from work; we were broke, and they were going out of business anyway. Looking back, you just wanna forget the number of layers, the heaps of reassurance, you need to persuade decay into white again (don’t you think?) I read on a DIY site that if you paint something once, you’re gonna repaint, and repaint, so try hard, know it takes time. Funny, today I’m beginning to see why, seeing the patches making their way back through the paint from the other side of the wall, like two salt stains between the door and the place where you kept your boots.

Winterless

I am fifty this year,
after Christmas, the late buds
assemble their small hooves
in the wind of the dead season.
The Mennonites with their black horses do not walk
out into the uncovered fields,
or step over their roots tarred in muddy flesh.
We cannot love whom we must,
yet cannot imagine another;
the earth is wrong for this place.

Draft

I remember the pain.

Now a thought, like a pillar

cracked down the centre

holding a roof that leaks

into the basement.

I listen for

the tiny letters

the steps of mice

write in stone.

I feel a draft this evening.

I felt for more, of course,

a river,

the bright black hair

of the sun cooling my ankles

into pain,

no, not this pain,

this

idea of braille

as falling snow

burning into eyes.

Excerpts

The snow, loose upon the windows,
is a mass of seconds. Moments collide,
time migrates. Rockets cough sparks, stars
dust out. The things you say to yourself is glass
on which cold excerpts light.
Learn their silences, what words don’t mean.
Memorize them, hum weather
no one’s witness to.

The Problem with Death

It’s not death because
only you feel your absence

And the birds translate
the broken windows’ whistling.

It’s death because
only you feel your absence

And the birds don’t understand
the broken windows’ song

is just the wind.

For Instance, the Geese

There is no name for that.
There’s no strength that holds happiness.
There’s no promised land of sadness.
The fields are gold with fall,
They are silver with winter.
The car is trailed with the filthy snow that led you here.
You note the windshield paintings,
the ancient figures, antelopes of ice melting into lakes,
Arms of blue rivers white with the harvest of clouds.
There was some mission.
About the mystery, you had come to
an understanding. For instance,
the geese circling forming wonder —
so why stay so long with them into winter?
What was the sound that we made,
if not a cry?

Because She Danced

Yes, the windows have needed replacing for years
(she had said to him a thousand times.)
But she left them, their tenuous existence,
half-reflections seeing to her forgetfulness.
She will remember when you’re
elsewhere, though, you’re sure,
how much she spent on the necessities,
like the fence to keep the dogs
from tearing up the riverbank at Christmas,
decorating their bodies with burrs,
and dance lessons for the girls
because, well, she danced once, too.
She’ll find it difficult to date memory,
the algebra of the two-sided gaze, here
minus but also plus back there.
She’ll know it’s been some time, though,
how she’d go to one,
and how opening made her different,
that for a time it changed her life,
feeling something more come in.