Williamsburg, city of weight:
you baffle me with your hedge and springing.
This cartoon town has kept me late,
hanging from a ledge with my fingers clinging.
After sleet the cold rain swooped
through silent air and iced the trees.
Their budding seeded a lethal crystal
and the whole of the town was dragged to its knees
and time froze with it: the cold air stilled
and shuddered to a stop, enclosed in its sheath,
while hunched in their coats figures froze on the corner
and the clouds hung ice-heavy, and the town underneath
was caught in its moment, and I could not say
if the instant was mine, or the world fabricked this way.
Williamsburg, city of ice:
rush to replace the paint and peeling.
Lay down your cards or cease your advice.
Your grey-smudged hands have printed the ceiling.
In this landscape of statues my vision holds two:
on their faces frost glistens. Their hands are rimed blue.
Her fingers poise over the keyboard, and hers turn the page.
The faces, when mobile turned by anger or spite,
now glaze with indifference. They wait the approach
of sleet-filled twilight and the horizon of night.
When the ice cracks and splinters and motion resumes
till the next moment freezes, what can they know,
whose page has been turned and whose hands have descended,
but the lash of our sleet and the imminence of snow?
Williamsburg, city of water:
if not the rain, endure the snowing.
Burst at the seams like an overfilled bladder.
The spring of your burst is my reason for going.
January 23, 1974
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