THE INVENTIONS OF ICE


1

Light. The word 'light'. The word 'dark'. The word 'word'.
An imagined landscape of moss and lava.
Then ice in all directions. Rock, disguised as ice.
Lava the colour of ice. Frost in the hair of the traveller.

The word 'frost'. Wind eroding birdsong.
Sky reaching out into sky.
Ice in the process of becoming ice.
The world as it is, in the word 'world'.

Frost on a traveller's eyelash. First stirrings of sleet.
Then snow, in a white-as-paper landscape.
All the way from here to the Pole.
All the way from here to Algol.
All the way from here to the flash of faint Andromeda.

A landscape of fire and frost.
Faint light from Ursa Major, from seven hungry bear-stars.
Blue turned black, impossible yet true.
The many words like footprints over the ice.

Migrating birds, no more than a stage direction.
White remaining, over the nacreous landscape.
Imagine the word 'love', inscribed on a single stone.

The Captain may be some time. The dissuasions were in vain.  
The depot so near, yet impossible to reach.
Under anywhere's stars, with mortality's compass.

Under a cairn, the buried explorers.
The word 'death' like a shadow.
Ice, in translation. Before a nacreous horizon,
un-enacted footprints creak in wind.

The indecipherable nature of the word 'death'.
Then the woman who warms the land with her eyes.
Under her gaze, the continent calves.


2

A man walks slowly down a muddy road
beneath the weight of enormous skies.
Gravity = history. He can't be any age at all
apart from the age of his actor
but he still walks, weighted, down that road of mud.

He walks beneath the heavy skies of the plain,
in winter, slowly, to the town's perimeter.
Cottages with doors side-on to the road
hunch in frost. He walks, with his hands slightly splayed.
From head to toe, he's in black and white.
December's necessary, like June.

I watch him walk and reach for my scalp and wonder
why life has staled, not needing to wonder.
The flame-haired women have flown their trapezes
and anniversaries tick like bombs.

I wanted to talk about love, so I talked about it for years.
I mumbled into snow. Ahead, the final diary pages.
Sleep, induced by morphine, after a man-haul through snow.
God, whatever you are, how I wanted to live!
And all the more so now. Not that I'll ever do other.


 3  

Suddenly, a life's complete, a four-dimensional worm
of a body's passage through time, embedded as if in cheese.
Suddenly or slowly, the work's a Work.

The actor walks from the edge of the ice-and-mud-bound town
to the ice cap, the nunataks, beneath brittle stars.
Algol and Capella, Polaris and Alkaid
look down at a dead man walking.

Cold's anaesthetic beauty.
The longing to be fixed.
The lure of completeness. Easy virtue.
Ice disguised as an impossible milk.
Then, startlingly, the invention
of a tree with its roots in ice.
Another. And convergent greens.
First dwarf conifers, then spruce and birch.
And a picnic table with a buffet laid.
Graffiti, scratched on wood.     
   
 
4

Ice. The word 'ice'. The phrase 'the word "ice'' '.
Circles of hell and heaven. Frost on the hair of a corpse.
A saint. An angel. I turn to you, whoever you are.
How is it we know we're alive?

Pictures in search of storyboards. 
I can't claim more. This is what I do.
Everything's granted, everything's passed on.
 

            Norman Jope 2007