River Road in December
Tree-strobing drive on a sunny-cold
afternoon near Solstice. Along the iced river
bare birch and oak trunks kick the sun
continually ahead, as in that football
game the ancient Mayans imagined being
played with a human skull in the Underworld.
What makes this otherworldly-seeming
is the absence of color other than
flashing white/flashing black monochrome.
The river must have frozen quickly, then
thawed, then, disheveled, frozen again
to make such fields of knifing reflection,
as though studded with upright mirror shards
giving back more intense luminosity
than they receive. All these chips, fragments,
spikes glint in rhythm with woods hurtling past
the car, atomizing existence,
breaking perception down into a storm
of ice-bright scintilla I can almost
hear, so crystalline the sight of them
chiming in my vision, a dry silver
shower that urges my particles to fly
loose with them and release in winter air
the radiance that was always in them, trapped
in the accelerating moment of my life.
Thomas R. Smith lives in River Falls and teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His selected prose poems, Windy Day at Kabekona, will come out from New Rivers Press in 2016. Visit him online at www.thomasrsmithpoet.com.