Monday, January 10, 2011

December: "Ice Storm, Maine"

There is something about winter
which pares things down to their essentials
a bare tree
a black hedge
hold their own stark throne in our hearts.
-Moya Cannon

- “Maine always takes place in an ice storm, like an animal revolting against itself...”
- You say to me as two unpaired, wind-scrubbed crows outside our window pick along the fresh-packed tundra of harbor scenes: prosaic villages sidewalks, yards and streets, rendering the year in its annual arrears, thinned out, now thinner still, the only tension found kissing at the heart’s one and only breaking-point, white fields piling up with winter’s paperwork, untended, waiting.
- We turn back to our tea.
- The business on the table is packages and overspent budgets like public confessions rolling out toward the frayed ends of ribbons and scraps of wrapping paper – shavings from a golden bough.
- But another glance outdoors as I churn amber with my spoon:
- Inky in character, each crow, a black pearl harboring icy onslaught in its eye, casts its cares toward a more corvine heaven....
- A murder beyond the pine row; a singular black drill sergeant warding the day on toward the cold country's parade grounds…..
- Cradled in snow drifts, black plumage strikes against the snow (opened-ended parentheses in winter’s paragraphs...

And in day’s continuous count down, the December sun’s
Low feast of lights trims back old New England
And her long year’s immoderate growth
To that pure Monhegan island
Of January rock - as if paring away
The isolation of our winter
To the waiting arms of discontent.

Waiting. We are waiting now too. So, we wait.
That’s the poor trick we’re learning lately,
As history secretly fashions a cold night
Into the mystery-image of snow’s god
Who falls again to earth, and dead grass
Conceals a cold god in winter solstice,
Discovering simple solace in an ice storm.

And you think again to speak against these rookish souls,
Daring to tease out their cyclic devotion to sacred time)
As if Christmas is not the beginning of the end for death
But only revision of purpose, a return to household chores.
So the year rolls on ignorantly toward sanctuary’s end
But we remain haunted by our bodies, unable to escape
The holy tension of present time, indivisible by years, months or days
Even as the heavens' turquoise crown of stars these last few nights
Is all holocausts -a solemn reaching down with northern lights.

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