A Whole Lake Moving, Imperceptibly…,
by Philip Gross
…until you’re still enough to see. Now fast and slow
both slip their moorings. You’re part of the drift
of the whole day westwards. Only the reflection
tries to hold it, to hold it in place… till a shudder
of wind disturbs it, the moment, side-glancing away
into shadows that move, too, at the speed of green.
What made us think that it would wait for us, this green
always crowding on by, going somewhere in its slow
procession, like a fairground packing up? Let’s run away
with it. That old romance. Years on, washed up, in a drift
of tide wrack, we’ll blink: how did we get here? And shudder
to recall the forest pool that gave us back our first reflection
and there we were – reflecting on our own reflection,
framed, titled: Figures, in Landscape (Shades of Green).
Somewhere above the trees, above the sky, a shudder:
some flight at intercontinental heights escapes the slow
drag of sound. Imagine yourself there, in a spindrift
of travel, blown spume from a wave, shied away
into distance, as if this was it, at last: the getaway
above an ocean calm enough to show you your reflection
in flight, five miles high. Nothing’s still: not the drift
of fractured continents, still less the crust of green,
flaking, parching to desert or creeping again: slow
groans of the earth in its sleep, or a shudder
of whatever dream we are: the trace of that shudder,
wind shadow on water, a shrinking away
into itself yet going nowhere, quick-quick-slow
around the dance floor partnering our own reflection.
And here we are. Around the lake the weight of green
is too much almost for the light to bear, but for the drift
of the body of water, yes, its inch-a-minute drift
to the outflow… crosscut, suddenly. In a shudder
of quick cross-purpose, a coot rips a green
seam in the moment, a precise life tick-ticking away
like a tiny cartoon bomb of presence. No reflection
on us, naturally. It’s simply not got time for slow.
You get the drift? Things have a way
to free us from the shudder to and fro of our reflection.
And the speed of green? A bit quicker than quick, slower than slow.