Greenland and Antarctica
Field ice knuckles down to the sea
and fractures. Slabs coast away
to addle container ships lurching
to New Jersey, Hamburg, Rotterdam.
I lie awake worrying that bergs
as big as Manhattan will crush
these fragile ships and deprive us
of necessities fresh from China.
Aren’t you worried, too? Your back,
as you sleep your crescent of sleep,
is a map on which I can project
new seas, new continents no one
even mildly sane has explored.
Maybe you’re dreaming of field ice
shuddering as thick rivers melt it,
climate change sickening the air
with the cries of failing species.
Maybe you’re dreaming of hiking
those ice-fields with me, crampons
groaning with purchase, ice axe
poised to slaughter pale creatures
that loom in the chilly fog. I press
against you, hoping that layer
upon layer of flesh will protect
the planet from its ugly secrets.
You stir a little but snooze away
my local effects. Antarctica
and Greenland seem so far away,
their rugose coastlines beaming
with winter sun or brooding
with winter dark. Which winter
are we? Early traffic sizzles
as the daily commute begins.
No one commutes to Greenland
or Antarctica, but the ice fields,
caught between competing eons,
simper like freshly printed paper
on which the latest scripture scrawls.
Red and White Stripes
Framed in the red and white stripes
of your six pillows your face
goes adrift, warping into places
I can’t enter without mourning
the forty years we discarded
like a cargo of empty oil drums.
The city grumbles to itself
with most of its passions muted
by the buzz of construction sites
and the criminal expressions
of cops in fresh new uniforms.
We should visit the museum
with its Dutch masters blazing
and Goya too angry to paint
but painting anyway, on and on
into black and gray infinities.
We should lunch like typical
elderly couples, late blooming
over delicate little sandwiches
and glasses of oily white wine.
In a few minutes the patter
of your bare feet on the hardwood
will present angles of vision
no one since Adam has enjoyed.
The snore of traffic will become
gossip of epic proportions,
and the stoplights will pause
on yellow for hours at a time.
The cops will almost learn to smile,
creasing their aggressive trousers.
Then you’ll fade into distance
rendered geological by habits
we hope to acquire. And then
I’ll know why the red and white
stripes of your pillows say nothing
of ordinary blood and flesh.