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Variation 13:  Artist

Alice B. Fogel

Later, when mud sops upward, sodden with gone or transformed snow,

and I am left to trace in black and white from memory

more than ground and sky, this is what I will most miss:  that other

kind of tree that though unfallen curved in crosshatch toward me,

that concatenous, suspended, horizontal tree: 

The one that needed snow as page, as mirror, door.  Those trees

in snow dimension dip deep into downward folds, bend up the other slope—

strips beribboning snow in palettes of white and gray, almost blue,

rippling as if in wind.  Like paths of water

snow’s trees flow and flex and in slow spin turn daily as one waving

to the sweep of sun.  From the edge of growth where slender trunks darkly

ache toward sky, snow trees—a second, perpendicular, forest—

lie down to rest.  I will miss how, in hollows carved by the flux

of snow-buried land, snow trees

were the scuffed and open fingers of the limb cupped from vertical trunks

outward and happy to be earthbound.

They reach for me across distances icy and untrammeled.

Too warm this afternoon.  For how much longer now

can snow be another place, neither earth nor air,

that takes the shadow of a high tree and draws it down in its own clarity

of negative light?  Draw everything—

the density of trees, sprawled weeds, waves of shadow and shade—

everything else but the snow and still the snow is there.  Snow

here, and here, all in between things, irrefutable existence, and a vision

like what the dying might see in the mind’s new eye, shaped

by oncoming memory, or outlined by the failure

of a heart.  How many more days

across the far shore of this shining field will real trees reach their snow

trunks down, go impossible lengths, into the illusory depth

fathomless in these few feet of snow?  I want to plunge my hands

down to grasp them, scrub their gathered skins

hard into my palms, but I know what I will hold.  Only cold.


Alice B. Fogel

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