Friday, December 22, 2017

This Black and White Scene

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.

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