Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002427, Mon, 6 Oct 1997 10:34:18 -0700

*Dark Ice* XI (fwd)
Red failed. Blue indigo and violet
The night came down. Uninsulated, I
Stood stiff on surface creaking like a boat
In murky dusk. Air took on graininess.
Through tidal time I waited, watching things
Luxuriate and wade in shallow darks,
Cloud over slowly: blurring, details lost,
Like an old pane written on by Frost
790 With homely characters that melt away,
Blending the structure of the Milky Way
With flawed glass: barred spiral galaxy,
Ocean on edge, phosphorescent sea
In which a greenish particle is lost
In a rush of substances: trace mineral;
Nightwash; cosmic tide; some sparkling foam
Aquiver on an insubstantial beach.
But going somewhere. Why else all lit up
Like a tractor-trailer in the passing lane
800 Gearing along a midnight Interstate?
Quasar synapses?--God's brain bristling?
A punctured film? Salt handfuls cast on ice?
A trillion-and-one reasons to be free?
Surrounding Nothing like the voided time
Before and after life? *The barn was dark.*
*Big bang: slow fireworks die in the sky*
*Across all time, before all history*
*And after: cold, colder.* Through stern space
Transition and translation, dark on dark:
810 Dark matter, dark baryons,
Dark halo around our galaxy,
Much darker than the lake's rimed blacknesses,
The photographic negative of ice
Just barely seen, downhill, through distant trees
Passed through before, on early wanderings--
Plates shift. The heavens tilt, a flooding dark.
Just looking up, you crowd with distances:
The Great Bear turning in a field
Like black water moving under ice...
820 Wobbling, wobbling like a shaky wheel
On a long haul, every galaxy,
Each dislocation is an answer: force
Obeying force (big chess game; brilliant play).
No: language. I glanced into a text
With every period present, bright and faint,
*The Northern Anthology of Everything.*
Each word of ancient light, long-traveling,
Physics its grammar, seemed to be arrayed
In spectral sentences, to form a code
830 Of being's rhetoric; the highest style.
Through icy dark, it sparkled like the new
Asphalt in a city parking lot
(Of smoldering anthracite, of smoking cold)
Between two sootstreaked buildings; only one
Light on: night-watcher reading in a chair.
I skimmed across the north, and trailed off with
The vast ellipsis of Orion's belt...
(Orion the Hunter boasted he would kill
Every animal in the whole world's
840 Shadowed woods: he sank into the sky's
Black winter; froze; few chips of glitter left.)
As in a darkness glassily I saw
A VVILD AM: IKON ORB prefiguring
Chiaroscuro, lunar lucency
Of ice and shiver, self and rushing sky:
My poem, your lake, both waited for a bare
Bold glow to rise and light this zero O.
Dark ice widened under moonless clouds
Of moving mind: branches, dominant,
850 Only negated dimly at each edge.
Stars prickled (universal goosefleshing)
As a pale flag of moon slowly rose,
Leaving the brambles, wet, its mica grays
Split by a few twigs. Here I reflected on
Opaque inflections of the moonburned pond,
Where ice's darkling luster drained away
Except within my outline on the page;
Its moondial wakened. Gnomon's shadow (mine)
Crept eerily. The vigil went awry:
860 The færie play of clouds revealed and hid
A dripping moon, white sliver of new ice
(Or mystic ball of dull, bombarded rock).
In bell-cold air, unclappered, soundlessly
(MOON WALKS ON MAN)the dim derivative
Pond received the moonlight's stolen glow
And gave its borrowed glamour--*crackle*--time.
*Who's there?* No answer. *Are you there?* Wet wind.