The road that is ice leads to the water. Which is ice. Leads past the bedroom of the house where the old woman died in her sleep, her spine fused till she was something translucent, cold. Ice itself. Like a similar road which leads past the house where the wife, recently separated, sits alone in the kitchen loving the man still, listening for the sound of his truck, the bark of the dog, on the frozen drive. The same icy road that cuts across the fields. That cuts through the woods. That leads to the weathered house on the edge of the frozen lake where the road ends, where the old couple, partly blind, partly deaf, glide past each other like solitary skaters.
Is this frost on the windowpane? What is she saying?
Can you see my breath?
Where did she put the matches? It snows all night.
Nobody remembers this road anymore.
He is outside himself again. Running errands for bread and milk, morning mail, and occasional visits with the lonely, the desperate, the dying.
Isolation, illness, death make him come alive again.
The view is white. The long shadows of trees in a late afternoon sun the color of a lemon dropped in snow.
He inhabits the talk of neighbors, strangers, friends, loved ones. The talk of radio announcers and television news commentators. The world is invisible;
violence visible as love.
“Taste this,” he tells a loved one, disenchanted in his dreams.
To open the door inside again he needs magic, not the magician . . . the top hat, the black cape, the wand. Not the language of abracadabra.
To see behind mirrors through glass again. To pick slivers out of the palm of his hand. To rub the bark of birch. To root the fields and find the bird just before song and substantiate the night.
To see in the dark.
Suffer blinding light.
Touch, touch, touch the frosted glass to tears.
Love Untold in Two Landscapes
The world no longer exists for the middle-aged.
Not a story but a life.
He remembers walking over the burnt landscape. The canyon. The ravens. Making love, her head hanging over the edge.
He remembers walking over the white landscape. The bluff. The gulls. Making love, her head hanging over the frozen shore of the lake.
She wanted to meet him for a long time. Tell him I’m here, she tells herself. He knows.
People do not know how he hides in landscapes. Protective coloring.
He should tell her: Life is erotic. Or nothing. She should tell him: Your life belongs to something else.
Unclothed, she almost makes him seem young again, though he, engaged in entering her, ravens circling above, stares over her hanging head, deep into the bottom of the canyon, part sun, part shade, part echo of a scream.
He and she bare to the middle movable parts, in the middle of their years, he makes her seem young again, though she, riding him, gulls pulling down the horizon, stares over his hanging head, mouth silently agape, tasting snow, tasting her come forward, sensing that ancient darkness before love, blue sky below.
Death and memory.
She gets to the bottom of him, he gets to the spirit of her.
She takes him again on a mud floor, the smell of native incense burning.
He takes her again in a barn on a bed of hay, and the smell of apples in a wooden crate.
Feelings of youth.
He reminds her of the first bite into a hard apple. Of sweetness. Of apples rotting.
She reminds him of ex-lovers and spouses, lost children, lost landscapes, aging flesh.
“! wanted to see how far we both would go.”
“I wanted to remember where I’d been.”
Who leaves whom?
The last time he was left with: a pickup truck, $300 in the bank, and a shelf of old National Geographies.
She was left with nothing. Which adds up. He gathers wood.
She gathers pottery shards.
He kicks off a pair of frozen boots.
She lets slide a Spanish shawl from her shoulders.
In the end, almost, she retreats to the top of a mountain she is physically incapable of climbing.
He walks in fresh falling snow with his .22 along the edge of a deep woods. And enters.
She hates him. Follows the rim of the canyon home. And takes the life of the most playful kitten in the new litter, deliberately, accidentally.
A shot, unheard, in the winter woods.
The death of romance.
[from: WINTER BOOK, Norbert Blei, Ellis Press, 2002]