Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Remnant Snow

The Remnant Snow
In Mecca, Muslims circle 'round about
A cube of black, within which sits a stone –
The object of a worship that was old
Before Muhammad heard the desert's call.

The snow is rotting on the sidewalk still,
Its marble turned to hues of dark decay.
On milder days, we see the trickling pus,
And then are grateful that it has no stench.

But deep within, there still is solid ice,
As hard as rock of grayed and sullied salt.
The broken blocks are piled on corners still,
As if a glacier left a dark moraine.

On a very cold and windy night,
Beside a crossing, by the station-house,
I stopped and shivered by a heap of ice
That looked primeval, as I stood in awe.


One monstrous block was like a meteorite
That rested, massive, on yet more debris.
I saw no crater – but, on looking up,
Beheld a moon that shone with frigid light.

And looking ‘round, I saw, through soot and grime,
The crystals sparkling like a diamond dust.
The wind was blowing fiercely – and the cold
Was such that I could barely feel delight.
And so I kicked, with full frustrated force,
That great gray rock – and winced in sudden pain.
It hadn’t moved.  And though I kicked again,
The winter’s hard, misshapen spawn sat firm.

A meteorite?  Or shattered comet's chunk –
Or screaming jet-plane’s frozen fecal-mass...
A piece of something, even larger, that
Had crashed and splintered?  Or this winter’s waste...

And yes – I thought its origin was this: –
Those crystals – they had joined to make this ice.
And this, compressed by traffic's weight, and glued
By melt from salt – had then been broken up.

For cities move – and that is paramount.
Without that movement, engines all would halt.
And so, the solid, rock-like ice must yield
To sleepless garbage-men in monster-trucks.

The comets, arcing in from cold and dark,
Appear as torches as they near the sun.
Upon such comets, dust and ice are mixed –
And blocks and specks are floating 'round like gnats.
And as the comet tumbles, day and night
Are harsh relief, with sudden heat and cold.
So summer ends.  In winter, ugly moons
And fireflies swarm – and stream across the dark.

I wondered whether straying comets brought
Our water, frozen, to this orb that spins
So near the star that vaporizes all
Such substances, on which our swarms depend.

I stood, transfixed and shivering, before
That kaaba-stone, besmirched by urban filth,
And yet, with all its hideous shape and size,
An icon bleak of much that went before.

2014 March 5th, Wed.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

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