Tuesday, February 24, 2015


This Cold (Chain of Lakes)

this shade of silver
like what color is in its pure state
two perfect bare silver trees
a silver lake glassier though than the trees gleaming
a line of oh a thousand such naked trees on the bank yonder

my sixth-grade friend Paul used to say yonder
because he wasn't from Texas but 
I thought he might as well have been from the moon

a full line of slate clouds above
soft blue beyond that like her eyes
a certain gold and glow from the lowering star
yet not the warmer gold of spring or summer or fall
more alchemical and unnecessary

all that's required is to be pale and bleached and empty
and to the east of the fading

cold cuts through your silly human cloth
freezing thought snaps
it is really this cold
this is what cold is when it's this cold
a heart can stop

it's done it before
your blood can freeze
it might be even now

there is no one
I mean NO ONE here
but this empty space is echoing with
one perfect cracking or howling sound after another
someone somewhere is safe and warm
listening to a soundfile of winter nature sounds
and thinking he's a very fine fellow for doing so

but I can step out on the ice
above those lovely noises
as the elements move and change and realign
as all things always do
and abandon my abstractions
flinging a fallen limb and then another and then
obviously too many
skipping them out and watching them slide across
the frozen lake

you figure out what to do in this kind of cold
you walk in that little strip of sun
and keep the forty mile wind at your back
not letting yourself think about the moment when
you need to turn and turtle-like withdraw within yourself

then return
a wise buddha
through that same fierce cold loveliness

and you realize you idiot
that this is just another of all the miracles
that cannot be captured in words
or photo or on canvass or anything but itself
for no frame would ever be fair to this
even a 360 panorama would need to  tilt up and down
and even if it did
it couldn't sing that shudder I just heard from the lake
or the sadness and strangeness of all the memories
of swimming this spot with four fine children now gone
or canoeing with Nathan through the chains
into six of the seven lakes
and the blue heron that flew just over our heads when we startled him that day

there is no way to say this place
which is why we need special flannel lined pants like mine
and German hiking boots if possible
and warmer headgear than I'm wearing now
to see and taste and feel and hear and meditate this cold

the only way to say anything worth saying anyway is like Zeno
you go as far as you can probably go and know
that there's still infinity to go
you touch her skin so softly
then again and then again
each time more softly
until the difference
between touching
and not touching
disappears or
at the least
is not now
subject to
"this is what I mean by loveliness
this this this this
this this this

on cue the world the sky does its sudden sad fade
the only truth of everydamnthing we know
yet still surprising when where you've stood was silver

so be it
the lake is just gray
the trees dull brown in fact
or facts are not that helpful here
when it's so absurdly cold

you only you and the people where the sun has still not set
who perhaps are part of you but haven't told you yet
know this mystery
the hard cold truth of today
a meaning not propositional or open to debate

her eyes
the bite of the February wind
that sky

the scrubbed skin of earth
all this sharp silver and faded gold
in the dying light
a million leafless empty branches
dancing violently above these
steady trunks
the darkness.

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