ICE STORM, by Richard Spilman

The morning comes frozen

to the ground, trees like old men

bent with the burden of their bones;

no birds, only sun and ice:

an exhibit cased in glass,

nature in museum postures,

the gravel road in rhinestones

like Las Vegas. You want to say

“Beauty,” but what kind of beauty

is this, where the thing itself

disappears into the display

and every edge has teeth?

The glare fills to stupefaction

like the shine on a ballroom floor,

all you can see bound in light.

A breeze rises and bits of the sky

fall like glass at your feet.

You pick them up, half cylinders

like the insulation you cut

from wire installing a fan.

The air smells of electricity.

A tree has toppled across the lane;

its roots, black and tangled,

reach for you. Others, shorn

of branches, offer their wounds.

One limb has opened a gash

in the barn. Flocked with hay,

it fills two stalls and parodies

Christmas. Power lines, emptied

of their fireworks, snake toward

grizzled cattle in white stoles,

who nuzzle the fence for food.

To them, nothing has changed.

Surely others lie bound to the earth

that fed them. In a day or two,

when this carnival has pulled stakes

and melted away, you will begin

the work of making do: take stock,

cut your losses, repair the barn,

cart off the dead; and in spring,

with its green pretense all is well,

you will learn to live with less.

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