Todd Swift






We thought of winter when we
Saw the lion.  Down from
The mountains, no prey, he
Made the impossible sudden,
Likely, in the snowfall.
As close as, say, that tree
Or the other direction, small,
The train bridge that shakes
Twice a day.  Not like a hand
Before a face, one of our skis.
Still.  A lion.  Very much
A part of each instant going.
While defining speed for us,
Our hearts, slowing, became
The ice we’d raced upon.

Such is vision, its mystery.
It puts a winter chill deep
Into beauty.  Fast as breath
Saying itself, the lion was
Gone.  All left was the rest
Of our memory of its essence:
(Power to be largely present,
To flow with as many identities
As bare trees and white ground
Will allow.  Force majeure:
A lithe accident, meaty flood.
A rusted-gold, a fur-wreathed
Kingdom at the rangy slope,
A mouth of stars at earth-level.
Goodness at natural swivel,

Raw, light’s carcass running.)
Our memory:  to grow and thicken,
Crisp as the snow-crust, water
Left out in sub-zero to mature.
Now when we think lion (word)
It breaks, we sink into the colder
World-thing beneath, as if on
A lake of ice—know no stable
Ground, but lion and snow
Inseparable here, vision-made
Twins—and our recalled fear
Long far down ago, so it tables
Out, on the bottom’s blue wonder,
Beneath the kept ice of January.
If again, this winter may go under.


Copyright © 2004 Todd Swift.  All Rights Reserved.

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