Part VII  



A word-wild wood striped with strange shade

My desk and chair, deep in a Russian glade



  270   A later afternoon. Another thaw

Unraveled lustrous cruxes; ice held fast

But loosened. Something cracked. As I stared

Downhill, through firs, a rotting stump (with ears)Asterisk

Stood up and lumbered off (delicate steps)

To forage, pushing deeper into damp

Entanglements (if she's awakening,

Winter won't linger long, despite the cold

Leftovers of old weather scattered here).

I pocketed a pinecone made of bronze.


Part I   Notes I
Part II
Notes II
Part III
Notes III
Part IV
   Notes IV
Part V
   Notes V
Part VI
   Notes VI
Part VII
   Notes VII
   Notes VIII
Part IX
   Notes IX
Part X
   Notes X
Part XI
   Notes XI
Part XII
   Notes XII

©, Acknowledgments
The Author


The iron-plated lake had partly thawed

But frozen fast, unfolding newspapers

In brittle Braille, torturing smooth plates

To maps of fracture, craquelure anglaise.Asterisk

Sun focused; I stood sweating in the cold.

Sole on ice, I wavered--;--dared my weight;

And strode across the thaw's cartography.

SPACERMooncolored patches (peril; fear) relieved

A partial mirror, temporarily

Substantial. Wet, white, walk. No vision spread


As I approached a tangled country tensed

Between seasons. Untrustworthy floor.

Fresh figure-eights of thorn unlooped from bright

Facing with darker roughness underneath

And dismal currents struggling toward the--top--!

SPACERLoud crack;--I made it. (Leaper, if

You walk on solid floorboards, praise the day

The liquid sun will sink this sheet away

In flagrant noons!) Deep breath. A crystallist,Asterisk

Taking up a dry and sturdy stick,


I stooped; examined blue lines; read cold proof,

Made markings on the margin of the lake,

But slipped and stepped: the murky verso cracked.

(Dark darting bubbles; lightning's negative.)

SPACERDark!--crackling from an ancient portrait (bled

From old enamels on a museum sled

That must have slipped and shaken over snows

Our clouds long since embraced)--shifted and shot

As puddles snapped. No runners passed these thorns;

But fragrant archivolts of evergreen


Led to an opening I hadn't seen:

Long avenue of acorns (infant park)Asterisk

Near which a rude pavilion leaned, its shade

Amplified along the glassy path

From roadside cottage to lakeside hotel.

Something about the way reflections flowed

Into that glassy fragment of a road

Mirrored a dream I'd had of going fast

SPACEROn packed snow--forest flying past,

SPACERStars overhead, my sleigh piled high with furs


SPACERBut cold, so cold, disconsolate--dark blurs

SPACEROf empty landscape--bleak ice, firtrees felled

SPACERAnd stacked for transport--inky snowdrifts, weeds--

SPACERAll these rushed past; steel runners kissed the ice;

SPACEREach creak of framework, hoof-clap, skittering slice,

SPACERInvariable rhyme--my every breath

SPACERSaid I was racing, all alone, toward _____.

(I plunge through freezing mirror and awake

Alive but undeniably alone.)

Bright day glared up. A squirrel sat and shelled;


The track curved back toward water but withheld

Its melt; thinned, crunched through frozen reeds,

Quartz flowers of old fallen ice,

Thin puddleglass, crystal characters--

Names written on a pane with diamond--

To hardscrabble scatters and the lake's blank tile.

SPACERI came upon my lucid antonym.

SPACERA plain reflection: no scarlet scarf,

No dandy's waistcoat-just a corduroy

Dufflecoat, warm boots, a pair of pants.


Briary clauses clung to leg and sleeve

And natural words bristled from every limb;

Arabic tangles skirting frozen meltAsterisk

Bore Hebrew thorns; Chinese crystals hidAsterisk

A bright diagonal. Just up the bank

I had to stop a moment by a tree--

--Human transaction. In my frail pee

A brilliant wind played with a frisk of sun;

There, as I emptied, air and I were one.

SPACERSo far away from my returning dream,


It seemed like something from a foreign tale:

No runners creased this frost; this ice was bright;

That nightmare melodrama, merely trite.

I thought of where I'd read those (studying

My contribution to a leafy map)

Glass-dazzled paragraphs that loomed and burst

Green, with supple switches, liquid shadesAsterisk

Variegated like Antarctic streams--

--And finished; buttoned up: the ice was wet

Filed pearl, brilliant patchily.


I walked along the lake. An old path

Led through burnt fir-stumps to a road, and stopped.

I recognized a place I'd never been

And never seen before (that book again):

No horses clopped past quickly, flinging snow,

No sleigh; but something else. A cold flow

Moved almost underfoot; beyond, bright black,

A mirror's hole: no footprints leading back.

This was the same swamped ice, the same wet air,

The same faint path, the same blank danger--there,


From just that spot, a girl I read aboutAsterisk

Walked down through reeds and chilly mist: stepped out.

(Some thing was overtaking me. That blur

Of old story felt familiar.)

The night she drowned (no "tragic accident")

She--clumsy, unpopular, intelligent--

Stopped here alone: the dark ice stretched out;

Wasted desire, thwarted heat, rote pain

Cracked with a shudder on my windowpane.

(But that was fiction! this plate floats on real


Reflective glamour, shifting to reveal

A bright black flow, a lacquer crackling

And giving way--)
Time glimmered, ink and ice.

SPACERI left that dislocation in the glass;

Down garbled paths, chased the ragged right

Margin of Platen Lake through leaded marshAsterisk

Foreclosed on in the stopped economy

Of winter: startled bubbles zeroed up,

An abacus of berries clicked; the wind

Stirred tattered, dogeared leaves. The bottom land


Held undecided puddles, icelogged sticks,

Weedy statistics, blighted, written-off;

Old logs with brief, blurred entries: Lazy-fear.

Stagnation. Downturns. Muddy forecasts.

Champagne is poured across the ice: the sun

Prepares a frothing celebration. Dark:

Grimmer wood. (These pearly softenings

Become our blackest midnight monolith

In Arctic relapse: carbon diamond,

Its single block a vast new-blackboard blank


That glitters up like coal ore.) Only dark

Trickles down; old murk. I plodded on

Along a grimpen slop of putativeAsterisk

Path through muck and ice disgorging thawed

Garbage; more pages from a newspaper;

A trampled banner  (ALL POWER TO...)Asterisk

I wanted anything to point my way--

Not sodden documents remirroring

The arts of politicians (rotting maps,

Each insect-eaten leaf-state stuck to earth)--


I stopped to look for some way up the bank.

Easy to slip. Then that relaxing mire

Gave up, in scraps, the outline of a film:Asterisk

SPACERYou'll meet Onegin, intellectual

SPACERBut cynical, a Black-Marketeer

SPACERWho trifles with a sister Worker's heart;

SPACERComrade V. I. Lenski, earnest, brave

SPACERYoung Socialist Worker, who will try his best

SPACERTo set corrupt Onegin on the path

SPACEROf the Task of the New Human; Tanya,


SPACERAt the factory, pressing back a wisp of hair

SPACERFrom her damp forehead, gazing up

SPACERInto Our Leader's portrait--his sad eyes

SPACERAre more than a foot tall; and a host

SPACEROf basic types: Old Bourgeoisie

SPACER(A padded figure with a pocket watch

SPACERHe keeps removing petulantly); Time

SPACER(Babushka with a youngster on her knee--

SPACERA girl, Historical Necessity,

SPACERWho lectures her upon the People's Will);


SPACERAnd, most important, represented by

SPACERA handsome liaison in a uniform,

SPACERThe Party. He speaks the eulogy

SPACERWhen Lenski kills Onegin with a wrench.

SPACERThe Hollywood version (1939)

SPACERHas Lenski as a cub reporter; Gene,

SPACERA hard-boiled gossip columnist (whose dad

SPACEROwns the newspaper); pure-hearted Ann

SPACERIs his girl Friday. Lenski has it out

SPACERWith drunk Gene on Onegin Senior's yacht;


SPACERThen loses job, wins girl, but at ballgame

SPACER(After big scoop makes competition snarl)

SPACERMakes up with Boss and Gene, who agrees

SPACERTo be best man at happy wedding. End.

Twice punctured ice; damn. Almost slipped in.

My black sled flies on; its runners ring

On shadowed ice sedately mirroring

Gray dripping limbs. No choice, no change; all cold

Dismal waste. Then--dim, faltering-gold

Flickers far away, across the lake;


Through stinging flecks I sail to overtake

That transitive kindness--bonfire on snow

To warm the frost-haired traveler. Your glow

Enlarged and lit the clearing where my sled

Slipped to a silent stop. Reflection spread

A banquet of warm bread and English tea

As winter reversed itself, and suddenly

An open waste became halfsilvered sky,Asterisk

Wet pavements, May, an unforeseen retry,

Bright spring: and that poor girl who took her life


Stepped through the mirror and became my wife.Asterisk


     Part VI       Part VIII