Poem: “Melting”


Snow is melting on the breast of the hill
like milk, the comforting familiar sour smell
of the waking body rises from the earth

and I, who have gone through every day delirious
into featureless night, stunned by the drill 
      and whine
of the frantic machinery of my mind

never resting nor reflecting, conscious yet 
      unconscious
as a passenger all night waiting for flight
to a steel city whose name he can’t recall–

in waiting to see you I find my ease
and lightness, the way the wind suddenly lifts 
      a leaf
from the still hard ground, or the shining smear 
      of rain

streams down the sunlit glass, the drops of water
such fertile transient sparks. It’s a gift
I don’t know how to hold.

Like honey it’s too rich for reality,
too protean to grasp, too sticky to get free 
      altogether:
it changes things, stains them with sweetness.

All I know is I can’t sit with my back to the sunset
in this high sterile chamber, the entire mortal show
of vanishing light only seen on my walls in 
      reflection.

So let a warmer wind play on the harp of the 
      bare trees
and the branches fill up with leaves like notes:
I, too, will sing.

Not smooth and not solid is the crust of the earth
when thawing water cracks and wrinkles 
      the ground.
Our feet quickly grow muddy, heavier to lift.

But above us the frosted trees drop their 
      common diamonds
of melting ice: not imperishable, but in lovely 
      abundance.
And so it goes on, moment by moment.


         from A Talent for Sadness (Turning Point Books, 2003)


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