In her own words...

"Aspects of Ice, Detail"


The chalky blur of failed snapshots defines my father's landscape:
too dim, in our opinion, too inexistent — we too young.

And yet, he gravely dwells there, tells its distant details,
his face behind his fingers as though their interstices saw elsewhere,

saw endless night in daytime, snow-pall like suffocation,
saw how woolen weight of sky leaned into basalt outcroppings

as if to drop its blanket over their naked thrusting.
No birds disturb the stasis, silence feeds the pewter lake.

And something about a wolf or what must have been one,
now flattened, freeze-framed, a fur rug for praying, a prayer rug.

Details. My father, too, is at these times as distant as his landscape,
skating home on ice we try to believe in. Thin ice.

My mother has no landscape. She doesn't seem to need one,
listening to the details, explicit as Scandinavia, respectfully.

Opening her icebox door — "Don't say icebox, say fridge" —
she contemplates its bounty, its beautifully labeled nourriture:

Marmalade's senoritas rustle lampshade flounces. Olives,
cola, Queen Anne maraschinos that my mother sees and doesn't.

She feels a rabid breathing slide down along her spine
as Andy, skating fast, heads home, wherever that is — poor Andy!

And all this summer evening, immense in its magnanimity,
blackens to deepest rue. She wonders what she came for, shivering

before her icebox maw, its sour cream and half-and-half
sinisterly disappearing under filthy snowdrifts and dead wolves.


About this work

“Aspects of Ice, Detail” was first published in The Gettysburg Review, Vol. 13, no. 2 (Summer 2000), pp. 290-291.  It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, p. 5, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.