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Selected poems from Ice Carver

Seven Kitchens Press, 2017

Hillside Night‑Shed

1

It's a phantom dwelling.

So whether it stands on a hill

 

or stands on an absence

of hill, where the sky shifts

 

and glistens in mountain‑shape,

is like asking

 

the address of a jeweler's shop

that sells only black pearls.

                               

Then is it a shed or shack,

an old warehouse or windmill,

or is it the empty mansion

where the moon floats

dressed in robes like a duchess?

The belts of dusk circle sidewalks,

blur the planet, saying it's hard to tell,

hard to tell . . .

2

Everywhere, nowhere.

Viewed through the keyhole of an owl's

 

talons, it's the blue, invisible frame

falling with nightfall. Or see it

 

as the spyglass pulled from a handkerchief,

the wood dove from the hat, the stage set

 

for the play children write

when, riding by on

 

bicycles, they shout

into its rooms without knowing.

 

Now's the time. Walk in.

Feel the walls that tremble.

3

 

Take the kept, stiff legs of a stork;

bathe in marsh, mist, and cloud.

 

Then dress with tunic of crow feathers.

For hands, wax wings of a bat.

 

Dial a prayer, dial a maker.

Make the sun into a stitched

and hagridden thing. A crizzled

pumpkin for the head. Now hang this

from the highest branch.

Bring night, bring sleep,

 

bring for the eyes buds of ether.

Chant, and chant again.

 

Chant until this night's

puppet beckons.

4

 

So is it there, in the stars'

penmanship lighting up,

       

in a simpleness that's ashen

awakening in the shadows,

 

in the sighing of the leaves

around the dry mouths of the dead?

 

One never knows. It may be only a style

of dust, rigged up by the wind.

 

Yet as twilight oils the stone,

a wand is in the mummer's hand,

frost in the dew, and the pearl

eye of the thunder‑drum

 

sets the bones of the face, your face,

peering in through a window.

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