Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1

Sea Smoke

Frost on a window, indistinguishable from roses
knotted into a curtain, burning
           as blue dawn drains into it
           from the backyard apple, its parabola
of ruddy spheres
what’s left of summer. Across the fence, a red boat’s dry docked,
buttoned against snow
           that won’t arrive until later.
           Warming your hands
at a cup of coffee
in the kitchen, you send your wish into the hemlocks, and
beyond them, to the bridge
           that takes you away, commuting days.
           You want to root here,
into the water’s going
and coming, to be home, to be home, in this old place
long skirts hurried
           through to the small barn
           a Mexican restaurant worker rents
now. Instead, you layer sweaters,
walk out to scrape ice from the car, coughing, like luck, into drive.
Past the Square that plows
           have already heaped into drifts,
           you slide onto the bridge
and—how can it be worded—the braiding tensions of the current,
the light the world flows inside,
have turned to precious metals.
           Every register of platinum
           and rose gold issues into
the frigid channel, coaxed
by sun into thermal plumes, bright steam cooling to droplets bent
by air into pyramids—
           dozens of them—
           seemingly still. You
stop, idling for minutes
to let the bridge raise, then drop; the day’s first fruit, a form of fog
exhaled by water,
           already gone, as
           the future accumulates
in the rear-view mirror: an apple tree,
dirt-brown, disappearing into the chapel of its vanished leaves.  end