The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Tiny Points of Life


It is the insidious agenda of snow
To bury the world,
But to do so with such delicacy
That we can only marvel
At the beauty of the effort.

Not that we will be taken by surprise. 
We will simply succumb
To an advantage of patience,
An incremental inevitability,
Far greater than we can conceive.

But ice ages
Are as much an accumulation
Of snowflakes
As any life is an accumulation
Of seconds.

We are a species
Prone to seduction, slowly immobilized
By infinitesimal pieces of time
And the happenings that they carry
On their tiny crystalline backs. 

It’s all getting deeper.

The words, for example,
Are piling up.
Only twenty-six letters
And yet, look at the words
In all the books ever written
In all the papers every day
On every note
Stuck to the refrigerator
Carved into every park bench
Held in every thought
Loosed from every tongue
Carried in every melody
Tossed aloft
In every prayer
And returned
As flakes of meaning
Frozen into shapes of sound.

And the numbers,
Only ten, and yet, in combination
We are drowning
In numbers
Spewing from hydrant calculators
Wrung from ledgers
Dripping from fingers
In such volume,
To such numerically immeasurable depth,
That commas
…And dollar signs
… ... And decimals
Rise like bubbles to the surface
And burst with news
That there are now almost enough numbers
To count all the words.

Not to mention
The great, growing cornice
Of possession.
Those accoutrements of identity
That own us,
Hanging from our boughs
Like stalactite garlands
Accreting obligation in drips
As inverted sediment
Hardening at the tips
Of our mortgaged existence
Because there is always
Something better to be had
When work bloats the belly of our days
And the storm of desperation is upon us
And there is credit
To keep us warm.

More numbers.

The regrets, too, are piling up.
The sun of years
Leaving the laments
That will not melt away
Leaving them
To combine,
To interlace,
Into that single frigorific crust,
Locking into old broken water,
Like primordial bugs
In some cold blue resin,
The things we cannot take back
The times we said no
The lash of the self
Upon the other.
All that we did not mean to mean.

More words.

And the snow will keep coming,
A little at a time,
Like ash,
Like tiny clouds,
And the weight of it all
Pushes the moraine of our lives
One-half millimeter at a time
All the way to the sea.

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