Icicles

Poem by Rhina P. Espaillat

I had been thinking—as we like to do,
we idle versifiers who contrive
yokes of resemblance to make one from two—
I had been thinking how cold winds, which drive
light things, may lend to weight a shapeliness
that makes it firm and mimics constancy.
 
Those crystal tears, for instance, should grow less
as drop by drop they drip, but each degree
lost with the setting sun prolongs them so
that each becomes a stream—a cataract—
of mourning, hard with habit, until no
consolation seems enough, and tact
must look away and honor such despair.
 
But no, one gust, capricious, with a sound
like passing laughter, tugs once more, and there:
my whole conceit in fragments on the ground.
So much for metaphor, that with its sly
embroidery seduces us to tales,
reduces us to liars by and by.
And maybe just as well, the way it fails.

 

American Arts Quarterly, Spring 2008, Volume 25, Number 2