Winter Landscape with Skaters and Bird Trap
By Karen Rigby
After Pieter Bruegel the Elder
If birds stand for departed souls
and ice is a metaphor for the treacherous line
between experience and dying, where does that leave me
looking in on snow-capped roofs and arterial trees,
anything but bucolic? Everyone’s faceless, light
a pale praline, frozen river angling into
the distance. If it’s allegory for a world of snares
I’ve breathed chilled air in a rental with a pilot light
that always burned out. Drunk bitter bile.
I’ve never seen Brabant but love the Flemish
for getting barbarous winters right.
Any village house mimics a cottage
from outside, never mind what’s hunted
or milled beyond sight. It’s the downhill
vantage that moves me, like a god sent to survey
the flock unpicking snow. Once, I was nothing but forked limbs
months from bursting into green. Primed to believe.
Portrait as Fata Morgana
By Karen Rigby
Because horizons bend
in strange configurations.
Because the Flying Dutchman was me.
Because polar air streams.
Because the fortress shrouded in fog draws whalers to the edge.
Because a castle inspires fear and miracles.
Because priests wrote of crystal cities, in 1643.
Because the aim of ordinary love is to miss
where illusion falters.
Because it’s better to land on phantom islands
than look underneath.
Because a cloud is no more headstone than avian kingdom.
Because what’s left when the vision dissipates
is the world gone blue, and no one to say
I was particle or wave.
Karen Rigby’s recent work appears in Grain and is forthcoming in Banshee. She lives in Arizona.
Visit her website: www.karenrigby.com.