Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Warming by Todd Swift
Each day, the glacier at the pole of my walk
To the store where I buy stamps and milk
Diminishes, threatening the few species
Living on the floes of my more and more mild
Heart - the white bears that stalk feelings
Especially, are finding less and less wild
So, land-tamed and ice chipped back, fall
Into tepid water nearly warm enough to drink;
This inner tundra of my self is fraught,
As all tundra and all selves are, with caught
Nature, since natures prowl and thrive best
When least talked of and more talked through,
As if the mesh between prisoner and love
Let tongues cross between the cold grate
Without piecemeal cutting of their red kiss.
Seismic or simply a breaking off of a chunk
Of berg, then, this shift in clime, from frigid
To temperate, from morning to much too late?
And what is the flag or thermometer planted
At the beef-pink core of my claimed identity
Doing to the radius around that place,
That may or may not still be me, like waves
That radar-blip out like tea stains from the cup
Onto the paper, browning space circularly?
Can one finger of ice - an icicle maybe -
Expose itself to the frost, and be mine,
While another, cut off, tossed to dogs, lost -
Endures another winter or summer, unnamed?
This wilderness-warming is like an earthquake
Tamed, stroked down so it sleeps, a white cat
Curled against the ground, nice and flat;
The sky is flake on flake on flake of snow,
Which is all I know of winter, need to know,
For hell is ice and heaven blue sky thinking
There are clouds above. I miss my own dead,
Despite the cooling zones inside that run to spring.
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Montreal-born Todd Swift is the author of three poetry collections: Budavox, Cafe Alibi, and Rue du Regard. He is also editor of numerous anthologies which include: Poetry Nation, 100 Poets Against The War and Future Welcome. In 2005 he edited "The New Canadian Poetry", for New American Writing. He is poetry editor of Nthposition online magazine, a contributing editor for Matrix, Core Tutor with The Poetry School, a module leader on the creative writing MA at Kingston University, London and, since 2004, Oxfam Great Britain's Poet-in-residence. Vehicule Press (Montreal) will shortly publish his new book 'Language Acts' (co-edited with Jason Camlot), the first study of Anglo-Quebec poetry in 40 years. Catch up with all Todd's activities on his Eyewear blog.
This is part of a series of poems from invited poets. Previous contributors were Luke Heeley, Joe Ross, George Szirtes, Elizabeth Spackman, Ivy Alvarez and Rufo Quintavalle. Illustration by Jonathan Wonham.