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Pond (Figures) by Carol Watts

What if all ponds were shallow?

Thoreau, ‘The Pond in Winter’

Now we sit at the fulcrum

of light & dark, sleepy with


& have hatched from ice

this chance to tread time

its thickening

into pond shallows, caked

& uneven, opaque as


mottling with shadows, those

darker figures, testifying


the impossibility of fathoming

what has taken place


except a keeping faith

with shallows, not depth


anything further, yet rucked

as if with obscuring visions,



And the crows return hungrily,

floating & scrapping, hover


ice like black script, or old clothes,

torn & beautiful, suddenly


on a page, as someone observed,

or notes on a stave, twisting

& curled

the way their wings shatter &

merge, like years


seeing ragged butterflies

alive in forest clearings,


recalled from shards of light

as if in intelligent adaptation

to a freak

of interleaving, the way wind

moved light along, there, &

nowhere else.


Here the light has glowered & gilded

its way through a cold snap,

forming birds

into figures surviving in the snow

against a pewter sun, against


& fogs, dark illuminations cut

from breath & atmospheres,

the cold

scissoring them from seasons,

below the bright lines of

dusty meteors,

etching unseen all the debris

suddenly arriving at this


as if weather lifts the universe,

shaking its dust while we sleep,

its sentinels

flocking to eat, & eat, fighting,

cawing, the infinite so soon itself

a limit.

Note: At the end of the poems the last few words are in italics. This is a fragment borrowed from a poem called 'Meadow' by Tom Raworth.


Carol Watts's new collection Mimic Pond is now out with Shearsman Books.

This poem was chosen by guest editor Tom Branfoot

1 comment

1 comentario

Karan Heppell
Karan Heppell
30 jun

Lovely from beginning to end

Me gusta
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