Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Cold Water," by Donald Hall

I step around a gate of bushes
in the mess
and trickle of a dammed stream
and my shoe fills with cold water. I
enter the shade
of a thicket, a black pool,
a small circle of stunned drowsing air,

vaulted with birch which meets overhead
as if smoke
rose up and turned into leaves.
I stand on the roots of a maple
and imagine
dropping a line. My wrist jumps
with the pain of a live mouth hooked deep,

and I stare, and watch where the lithe stripe
tears water.
Then it heaves on my hand; cold,
squaretailed, flecked, revenant flesh
of a Brook Trout.
The pine forests I walked through
darken and cool a dead farmer’s brook.

I look up and see the Iroquois
coming back
standing among the birches
on the other side of the black pool.
The five elders
have come for me, I am young,
my naked body whitens with cold

in the snow, blisters in the bare sun,
the ice cuts
me, the thorns of blackberries:
I am ready for the mystery.
I follow them
over the speechless needles
of pines which are dead or born again.

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