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Wide icy river.

How, driving in whiteout above tree line the summit road washed white blue-white gone to swirling powder, we gasp whirling inside the frosted sigh of the earth. Straining in whiteout our eyes the eyes of creatures unsuited to this element vestigial, liquid ornaments splashing for flashes of orange. Each marker hovers, flicks past too fast we can't let it go we can't see it or the next-- Outside our tiny sphere, the expanse-- white on white, the endless domes of our unknowing. Our knowing what we cannot see could very well whisk away our visible breath. How the ones we loved well enough or not would miss us with a white-hot burning for as long as they held on. And those who held old photographs would conjure our voices above tree line, in whiteout, the road drifted over. Long after the photos have fallen, white flakes of ash in a stranger's grate, our distant, white-boned daughter will warm her cold ear along the thigh of her lover. Her breath on his skin white language he can lose himself in that white on white remake us windswept blue in its own image.

Peggy Shumaker's new book, Wings Moist from the Other World, appears this fall from the Pitt Poetry Series. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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Author:Shumaker, Peggy
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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