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by Tod Marshall

We stare over snowy triangles, Pythagorean rumors that our lives add up
to something resembling good sense, you beside me like a stay against the sadness
that would come later and shred our marriage, mountain lupine windborne,
each seed a lost second, the flurry of them, our lost years. We know those equations:
the opaque glaze of ice is the mountains' yearly sentence on the lake
for hoarding summer's light in its depths and the echo of a thrown rock
off a granite face is a stone's decree against dirt
for holding too firmly the smooth, roundish shape of its shadow. We stare into the gaze
that is nature, grateful that it doesn't hurt us by shouting how small and inward our vision is,
tiny eye of memory, pupil and iris of desire, how a hummingbird might see the world,
what equals a seen thing that makes us slow to notice the teeth, the appetite coming back,
the seeing that is the beat at that lake bottom, something pulsing in mud. Consider
a nervous glance over a ledge, sensing a place far beneath that cliff. Consider
melting snow receding, the frozen lake becoming spring, becoming
what never was, a plea for white happiness spread over ice. If you and I had decided
to climb back up the ladder for one more look from that mountain top,
then our gaze might have meant the muddy melt of spring, maybe new flowers,
but we left, and the dry months to come were our only offspring, the making
that was our unmaking, what the world saw and dreamed, what we were unable to clap
our hands and wake from, the scratches on stone that said this is who we are
and what's melting right in front of our eyes, illusions that granite and snow,
pine and sky acknowledge us without care, consequence, the triangle: desire,
being, and the empty seeing that shows us how tiny we are in the earth's eye,
a green and blue and white iris that is morning, evening, and afternoon; yesterday,
now, and the borrowing against tomorrow.

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