The Frost Place
Your half-decade here - "the Franconia
years" - bonded depths of pain with growing fame.
Fresh from England, shouldering praise and a
pair of first books, you let Henry Holt claim
you; sought and purchased this farm and small home,
porch framing the White Mountains. Elinor
miscarried. Word came of Edward. You'd roam
the woods, grieve, collect plants, let rhythms pour
into you, mold them to verse while rocking
slowly at your cluttered desk. The kids played.
Elinor weaved wit and silence, locking
you in and out, and you her. Still, you stayed
linked like root and earth; held close through tremors
from love's madness, death, your great lion's roar.
Light flows so intensely through this frozen
crystal prism, faintest color's our result:
gray haze like London morning's explosion
of mist and smoke; then suddenly occult
transforming to translucence at center,
as clear as psyche following prayer.
Adjusting to this sculpture of winter,
the eye finds at its core a small layer
of droplets suspended like rain, or tears,
timeless reminder of what cleanses earth
and us. It chills the palm, predicts our years
to come: our living, dying, and rebirth.
Months from now, we'll consider how we felt,
passing it hand to hand, watching it melt.
Sometimes, as I lie in dark listening
to your passion and control surge from heart
and gut, I fear you might explode, taking
me with you. Then suddenly you soothe, smart
and smooth, making me smile, then tears, laughter,
wishing I could hold you; feeling I do.
Back in my Greenwich Village days, after
workweek's slash brought weekend's salve, I'd talk to
Dave who'd interviewed you. He'd smile at loose,
rambling praise, my metaphors of you as
lark, volcano, wounded fawn, phantom muse
guiding to lands I'd never dreamed or passed
in this life. There at Quantum Leap, we two,
at meal's end, always agreed we loved you.
I've just left Damgoode Pies after lunching
on salad, stroll Kavanaugh's curve just past
Beechwood when a young guy, slender, munching
on a chaw, approaches tired and slow, last
mile it seems. He glances, nods, open palm
raised without a word, ancient sign of peace.
Cro-Magnons, proving clubless that way, calmed
a stranger's fear. Le Loi, when war ceased,
announced Ming army driven from Vietnam
by lifting a hand. His men cheered. Bob would
recall his Detroit gang days, how he'd scam
a foe, hide a switchblade in his palm, could
slit a throat before the guy blinked. I think
of all this, open my palm, wave and wink.