It has my attention, like some wreck or disaster, or some road-killed creature stiff and silent on cold asphalt, being passed by by indifferent machines that wrench their occupants away toward the doomed commonplace: out of that brief moment when no-one is driving and back to where the illusion of control must again become no illusion, lest the roadside suffer another grim scene.
And so I concentrate on the sound of the rain, the soft thumps and louder splashes, and think of it soaking into the ground to feed the roots, and think of the growth that will come in spring whether I see it or not. After a while the rain does begin turning to ice, though not yet to snow, and the ground turns white. If I waited here in the cold long enough perhaps the sound of rain would cease and the silence of falling snow would replace it, but the whitening ground has broken the dark spell, and I return to the warmer house. But my fingers are still cold and clumsy as I type.
The Ice Skin
by James Dickey
All things that go deep enough
Into rain and cold
Take on, before they break down,
A shining in every part.
The necks of slender trees
Reel under it, too much crowned,
Like princes dressing as kings,
And the redwoods let sink their branches
Like arms that try to hold buckets
Filling slowly with diamonds
Until a cannon goes off
Somewhere inside the still trunk
And a limb breaks, just before midnight,
Plunging houses into the darkness
And hands into the cupboards, all seeking
Candles, and finding each other.
There is this skin
Always waiting in cold-enough air.
I have seen aircraft, in war,
Squatting on runways,
Dazed with their own enclosed,
Coming-forth, intensified color
As though seen by a child in a poem.
I have felt growing over
Me in the heated death rooms
Of uncles, the ice
Skin, that which the dying
Lose, and we others,
In their thawing presence, take on.
I have felt the heroic glaze
Also, in hospital waiting
Rooms: that masterly shining
And the slow weight that makes you sit
Like an emperor, fallen, becoming
His monument, with the stiff thorns
Of fear upside down on the brow,
An overturned kingdom:
Through the window of ice
I have stared at my son in his cage,
Just born, just born.
I touched the frost of my eyebrows
To the cold he turned to
Blindly, but sensing a thing.
Neither glass nor the jagged
Helm on my forehead would melt.
My son now stands with his head
At my shoulder. I
Stand, stooping more, but the same,
Not knowing whether
I will break before I can feel,
Before I can give up my powers,
Or whether the ice light
In my eyes will ever snap off
Before I die. I am still,
And my son, doing what he was taught,
Listening hard for a buried cannon,
Stands also, calm as glass.