Trajectory


The ice dam broke, slabs
jamming a cabin overland,
its faithful dog
locked inside, yelping.

My friend told me a boy jumped
the ice floe, floated for miles
through slithery red mudstone,
trout-skinned shale.

I rode the telling–
it felt like love, not familial,
but of the body, moving fast,
out of control.

We'd raced one night, my friend and I,
while we sucked black cherries.
Silent but for snapshackles.
A dozen white sails.

The body seeks abandon–
somewhere in the limbics,
the cortex, the tangible feel
of being alive.

I'd flown too close
to cropland once, almost crashed
against the soil's water-stained satin.
Einfulung, we become

the moving figure
as it rivers and freezes,
the skin responds, the heart
and eye, we empathize.

I'd watched a blind dog
find a ball by sniffing
where it bounced,
rebounded off a wall.

How magnificent
the circuits of the brain,
how the absence of an object
leaves a scent,

a line of trajectory
for even a blind spaniel to follow.
When Search and Rescue reached
the boy by flowing ice,

they wanted to tie a life jacket on him,
wanted to find his parents
to take him home. He said he wanted
to be left alone.

They threatened to arrest him.
He had long skinny arms and a sharp face,
which he turned away.
The ice floated to the opposite shore,

the boy stepped off, walked
into the forest. No one knew
if he survived, if anyone
ever saw him again.

Imagine careening slick water,
over peamouths and shiners
on a punky boat of ice, like orbiting
the planet on a tempered glass

windshield, one crash
and all would shatter, not shatter exactly,
but fracture full spectrum, like life
as we know it–radiant, beyond rescue.


Sandra Alcosser, except by nature, Graywolf Press, 1998.