A Low Bank of Cloud

But for a low bank of cloud,

         clear morning,    empty sky.


The bright band of light beneath  the cloud’s gray

       I thought at first was open distance,    but it’s ice


that by extension raised the lake above the lip of blue lake

       and spilled it farther out than that horizon


along the sky

       and floods the clouds.



      Seeing the distant level further

unfurl into the sky says not to trust


      blue line as terminus

when a meniscus of ice


       can ride up that wall of the skyline,

a measure of illusion how close


       the eye can be to filled

with seeing,        to widen instead the tube of that measure



of sight we are given.        There is the larger

        lake the wider look we open


eyes to see. That glance of the lip

        put in a bigger cylinder falls away,


but how much deeper the spring

       to fill the cup.


As if the surface we are seeing

        drops          the more seeing is added,



       while we feel the stories well as our height

from which to see.         And watch the dawns coming.


…I seem to be emptying

of time        the more time I put in,


       and see like a man with weathered eyes enough

to face to face up   to the sight’s field expanded


       to insight.    To the dark the lake can turn

and curl up like a map for poems to have



these likenesses to graph,

        then come un-scrolled from semblance back


to just this lake.        Water

       cities are led to        layout


beside.      But never in stillness;

       always the restoration to change,


from ice, from cloud, turning to clear

        liquid—as is most of our body



        water—       thinned sheet, layer

that if written        on or with,         a bearing


a name chiseled on water


Ed Roberson, "A Low Back of Cloud" from To See the Earth Before the End of the World. Copyright © 2010 by Ed Roberson.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)
More Poems by Ed Roberson