Smith, the fields grow grassless here.

My neighbors wear walrus skins and don’t mend
their fences. The bay turns the sky gray. The clouds drop

knee-high. From this mountaintop, a taller one looms—
I wait, unraveling

a thread of words, surveying the circle of ice

that crowns the pole.

You love the idea of the sea, not the sea.


I am in a village of ordinary thoughts
and extraordinary people.

Their hunger herds the caribou.
To say yes, do not make a sound.

Do not breathe: submission

is the gentlest grace and marries me
to silence. To say no,

walk to where the sun fell and left.
You say the horizon’s face is a compass

and I see two hands folding and unfolding.

Each of us is a spark that wants to fire,
but I am less, a blackened cinder—

I cannot go farther. Winter’s light

is in the eye and I still see
the honeyed seasons, green coasts,

the world oceanic and jealous,
but living spun us loose.

Living will kill us.


Today, I stopped waiting, Smith.
Today, I watched the last streak of pink light

lose its luster, and I lost the sky.

From an ice floe
the dark shines and I become its shadowed star.

Today, my numbness is the knot

of your body, the knot of your hot thoughts.
From the shadow we can see

to the shadow we cannot see,

today the ground has become the sky, and I ask
where is the horizon? O, Smith,

even the hoarfrost swallows the dark, midnight
murk subsumes the day. The horizon that you chase,

the line that marks sight’s end, today it is here.