Winter Approaches Harrisville
Old brick mill buildings nosing
forward into December,
eager for the new year when
small frozen rivers resolve
and citizens like us repent.
With most of a century wasted
on the human project (the curve
of the earth flattened, the point
of vanishing point perspective lost),
I lean against a cold northerly,
unable to distinguish post-
Canadian gray from local
shades, the ice rim of the lake
sharper than a guillotine.
Whoever devised such cruelty
should languish on the bottom
long enough to cringe as tightly
as a rosebud plucked too soon.
You say it’s only nature
applied with strokes of an old-
fashioned Speedball pen, the kind
cartoonists used last century
when we still retained our humours.
You remind me that when the lake
has sealed itself we can cross it
and count the drowned faces peering
up through the optical ice.
Do you recall how many we saw
last year? The year before? The mills
used to grind people small enough
to stop caring that their hands hurt.
The low pay guaranteed misery
so thickly upholstered in snow
that no one noticed the neighbours
had also lost fingers or limbs.
This year we should walk the ice
after dark, see if the faces glow
with the phosphorescence of decay.
Maybe this time we’ll remember
how many, what they have to say.