Although the brook’s ankle-deep,
the hole in the ice looks bottomless.
Black as cast iron, it tempts me
to lean so far over I’ll fall
into the center of the earth.
You agree that an abstraction
has formed, maybe by Arthur Dove
or Clyfford Still. You note
that it’s “eerie but beautiful,”
and represents nothing in nature.
So we’re in nature but this brook,
flowing from the Peterborough Hills
to the Contoocook River, warps
from one world to another.
No wonder the painters I loved
in my youth went insane and ate
paint-squiggles straight from the tube.
No wonder museums prevent
visitors from touching the canvas.
Touching this black and white scene
would plunge me into constructions
of Anthropocene horror ripe
as the moment before a scream.
You note that I’ve carelessly rhymed,
that my seams are showing again,
but I need that stark crude emphasis
to cut through temptation and stop
me from dropping into that hole
and in one world breaking my neck
on the shallow rocky bottom
and in another world emerging
on the dark side of the moon.