~ After a photograph by Emmet
Gowin: Dalton Dishman, ice
carver. Danville, Va., 1970.
He has fashioned a boat
out of a block of hardened
water, a crystalline tug, highlight
on its bow, its whole length glassy,
gleaming even under the dim lights—
bare bulb overhead, one at the back—
inside this frost‑raftered vault.
In the photograph it is 1970
and nothing is perishable.
A transparent boat cruises the dark
floor of its hospitable chamber.
Through the open doorway we look upon it.
The sculptor, middle‑aged, tall, and in
shirtsleeves (perhaps it's summer out),
stands immediately behind it, his
heart at the picture's dead center;
his gaze direct but shy; lips
lightly closed, as if he momentarily
holds his breath, to let his shining ship
have this clear instant of glory.