Friday, November 20, 2015

Ice for the Ice Trade

Stephen Burt (2015)

Everybody wants a piece of me.

I have been weighed and measured,

tested and standardized,

throughout my young life. It happens to everyone,

or to everyone with my ability.

Now I live quietly

and mostly in the dark, amid sawdust and sheer

or streaky wooden surfaces. My role,

when I reach maturity,

may be to help people behave

more sociably, and reduce

the irritations of summer,

or else to make it easier to eat.

For reasons I cannot fathom, I weep when it rains.

My handlers keep me wrapped in awkward cloth.

They will not let me touch my friends

or show any curves. They have taught me how to shave.

A few twigs and dragonfly wings got caught

near the center of me long ago; they serve

to distinguish me from others of my kind,

along with some bubbles of air.

I am worth more when I am clear.

When I am most desirable

you should be able to see yourself through me.

Some of my distant relatives

will probably never go far,

because they are too irregular, or opaque.

Many of us will end on a cart.

I, on the other hand, have had my work

cut out for me by so many gloves

and tongs, pallets and barges, poles and planks

that I am sure I will go to New York;

there people who own

the rights to me will give elaborate thanks

to one another, and go on to take me apart.

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