emerald ice

Emerald Ice
by Diane Wakoski

If I were a jeweler,
I’d look for emeralds the color of
healthy basil leaves, pungent and thick and green
as parrots;
and if I were a woman who had emeralds weighing down
her harpsichordian hands and nudging her neck
as they turn warm but do not melt,
I would hold my emerald-laden hand
against this new snow which covers the not yet frozen
November ground, the liquid hardness of the stones
contrasting with the chalky softenss of the snow.

For just a moment at least until,
if I were an astronomer, mirroring an arc of light which
might mean a new galaxy
has been discovered, I might name
this phemonemon, “Emerald Ice,’
to tell you how
beautiful these things are to me.

But none of it would
matter, if I didn’t dream of boys
with leather aviator jackets,
or men who rode motorcycles into the living room, once,
or the Silver Surfer who might travel with me,
nude of emeralds, a galactic wonderer.

What could matter
if there were any sex or love that could
transcend death,
speed faster than my imagination
or the light?

What could matter
if these boys,
if all men,
were not just memories like emeralds,
or pungent basil,
new snow,
throwing their scuffed leather jackets carelessly
over my empty bed,
while I am surfing,
light trailing my heels,
from galaxy to galaxy,
trying to escape death?

What could matter if life
was really about sex
instead of learning
to die?
Isn’t orgasm called
“the little death”? Or is that something else?
like eating the best
fresh-leaved pesto on homemade noodles,
drinking an icy, or is it
eau de vie? one drop of which glistens
over the basil,
and together they are the only

Do women dream
the Saturnian ice of emeralds and sapphires
because men never touch them? They sleep
alone in snowy sheets,
surfing galactic oceans.

We pretend,
but there is no mystery
in either sex or death. Just –
the unthinkable.

The one,
always elusive, never attainable, missing
as soon as you seem to have it.

The other
always waiting, unavoidable, something
no one escapes.


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