Thursday, December 11, 2003

Changing State


The ice forms first at the riverbank
where the water is still and shallow.
There it begins its marginal life
honing the secret edge

that inches toward the main channel molecule by molecule
progressing regressing

which is called changing state

Against the brown water
the new ice is clean, almost white.

Willow leaves blanket the shore
up to a collar of bare mud,
then, under the ice, less distinct,
they blanket the river bottom.

they are narrow as penstrokes
they translate themselves

Downstream, half hidden behind a thicket,
there’s a tent and tarp,
an old bike, a plastic water jug, a half
buried sneaker, a rusty lawn chair.

Massive, uniform, smooth,
the water pushes east.
It reflects the bare trees.

I would like to say three things about the river.

Between water and ice is the longest night.

All movement is fall.

The rest is ditch.

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