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This Plain of White

Stroll out across a lake
to find new country born of ice
stilled to one scene, water planed
to waves in pantomime

a quietude surrounded by
a city of the modern herd
white meadow in an urban place
Olmstead might have planned

Manet had vaguely rendered
figures colored at a distance
coming with the morning sun
in a minuet on black glass

Proust’s balletic Sunday skaters
one by two they venture forth
across a southern bayou
in a fairyland of snow.

Each hour more strike out
upon this winter driven south
I walk in wonderment–had
childhood passed on skates

instead of teasing crayfish
in a swamp-side ditch–ah, dignity
it’s too laughable a yearning
for artic waters all a life.

The sled dogs churn, released
leaned hard against each harness
they know this scene from way back
digging with each icy spray of sunlit

crystals to the far side
evergreens in sight they want
to bound this sudden meadow aim
toward home’s good tundra

and I would leave with them today.
Buried deep in winter hearts
the wind is mere sensation
and snow goes on forever.

Immeasurable expanse!
Instinct yearns what reason fears
each time the weather changes
it dives deeper every hour.

Loud ice rubs the stranded boats
numb stress against the metal chaffs
old ghosts somewhere off beyond
a boiler burns in overdrive.

Creatures lakeside seem have fled
to hovels, run to ground, tonight
will mean survival–would they
offered take to huddle near

our hunters come from ranging free
curled about their arctic dreams?
Like a story drawn from London’s
book, a reenacted tragedy

bones that won’t be found til spring laid bare and scoured by the storms
an empty plain bereft of life.
Beauty lies in living close

to that which ‘claims us, chains us all’
like edging waves upon his board
or hiking on this plain of white
now calling, urging, taunting me.