Part XII  



Let me stop here. I've been up all night,

Watching the lake. The ice is creaking, wet:




  870   Its luscious quickening returns the dawn

(Which for some reason we've been waiting for).

Past clumped, illiterate scrub

Old boulders glisten; molten coatings glow

Like the internal organs of the sun.

The bell-bronze trees are still. Few pages left.

SPACERI'll walk out one last time. I'm thinking of

Two unrelated surfaces: the ice

Slips and whispers underfoot; the sky,

The daylight surface of the universe,


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


Benign and bare, is moving overhead.

There is no death. No petty torturer.

No programmatic force that murders minds,

No grim competitor. Relinquish us

From our excuses and our differences;

Show us a faultless sky, unhinging ice,

And dark water on a bed of stars.

The scattered letters drift, and leave our lives

Wearing through words, reflecting everything

In treacherous grammar, breathing on a dark


And temporary pane of lacing mass

(Like Zemblan fishers camping on the ice).Asterisk

SPACERI see the road from here, and hear the carsAsterisk

Speeding along the slick black Interstate

With whirlwinds bolted underneath their hoods,

Their violence directed to our will;

We rush ahead--hissing across the miles

Of unencumbered continent so fast

The passing signposts blur like turning spokes--

Not thinking of the ruin in our wake,


Only of moving onward: faster, go!--

--And delicate valves distribute golden oil;

With timed explosions, forceful pistons lift.

We know the motion, not the things we pass,

Which hardly shimmer into solidness

Before another apparition comes,

Peripheral and ghostly, in its place--

We leave that place behind--perspective slips

And slides through everything that isn't road.

America----Aren't you hurtling





Forward on fresh roads at such a speed

That nothing can overtake you? Where you pass

The highway steams and trembles, bridges jump,

Everything falls away, is left behind,

And on you hurtle, finished with the past;

The other nations pull aside and stop

To let you by--they stare through your exhaust

With mixed expressions as you rocket on;

Even the troïka shivers in your wake,

Is almost thrown to splinters by the wind:





The horses flinch, a wheel hooks the edge,

And only the skillful driver can prevent

The whole contraption's tumbling down a ditch

And killing everyone. People get out,

Embrace and curse; one staggers to the cold

Stamped-metal guardrail, hugs it and is sick;

Another comforts a child (who excitedly

Struggles loose to gape after the car).

Where are you speeding to, America?

Answer! I listen. Leafscrape. Falling dust.





Black, patterned tires kiss the distant curves.

SPACERThe road is briefly empty, and the ice

Drips--sudden slushfall from a higher limb--

In patterns too complex to separate

Music from crust-slip, slush from squirrel-climb.

A tree flings up a handful of black birds

Like a magician's sudden offering:

Grapple of thaw. Retaken continent.

The lake's thick ice is wet, with streaks of sky--

Chilly today, but melting nonetheless:





A tank could never make it to this spot.

SPACERThe wind picks up. Trees wave. A boulder glares;

Beyond its sinking shade, a lexicon

Of molting meanings tangling with melt:

A weedy dam, a stand of gangly trees,

And, matted with softening frost-crusts, living grass

In heavy clumps. The remnants of a path:

Left to be mud, it might solidify.

A long and glorious road continues, comrades,Asterisk

Toward ultimate victory in our mighty struggle!





SPACERWho'd follow it, be wary but be brave:

It glitters and sinks, glares and spatters up,

Ensnares and sucks rank gold-gut. Melt reveals

We are surrounded by transparent things--

Dense ones too: but molten. Flaring sun

Will set afire lepidoptera

And swarming siltmotes where at water's edge

Frogs, fircone-green, will kick up heavy mud

And bask almost submerged, as if at rest

After their long, slow, slippery twist from one





State of being to another (CrickAsterisk

In my neck. Excuse me). Melting isogloss

(Mica, isinglass, or muscovite)

Of thinnest, frailest ice divides us now,

In undecided spring: winds gust across

The endless prairie of the Russian steppes;

Already a little lapping water eats

Away at every joint. Trapped bubbles quake

Under these soles. (Hope I make the edge.)

Thinner and thinner. End of page and pane.





SPACERA liquid path has followed us, our feet

One mirror inch above uncertain depth.

Under this white, wet sheet of crystal glare

(Which can't support me long--I'm walking back)

Numb fishes dream of evolution's pain.

Dark mud sucks down, in cold, the visible.

O instant instar, dark intaglio,

Scrawl on, unsilvering our mirror-fear!

----Just made the shore. That last leap broke glass,

Punched through to mud: boot soaked. I'm heading back.





The moonbound lake is, after all, a page--

A mica pane dissolving in a stream

So cleansing and so cold it washes blank.

The nose-coned buds are pointed everywhere

In constant readiness as earth deploys

Delivery systems of unbalanced spring.

--Trimeter, trimeter, trimeter. Bird somewhere.

In vair-lined scarlet cloaks, spruce uniforms,

Come May Day dignitaries might review

The ranks and files of birches flowering--





Young insects, croaking throats, the generous

Instinct quick and liquid in the law.

Last ice surrenders to reflections; think:

If struggle is a struggle to be kindAsterisk

We are not only animals with thumbs

And pretenses like dark insignia

Mimicking eyes on frail unfolded wings.

SPACERThaw-drop. Crystals leak. Limbs flex. New air!

SPACERMud follows glare-melt. Sun intensifies,

SPACEROld snow slips off: limbs jump;





SPACERGreen, limber cones

SPACERPeal free.Asterisk





     Part XI       Notes I