Lines

 

When snow’s on the ground I walk toward tangled 

places—briars and vines, the second-growth thickets 

of once-cleared fields. I locate bittersweet that climbs 

high in half-dead trees, loops in spills, probes tendrils 

along wires. I watch for the scribble of winterberry—

shapes one might sharpen a pencil for, doodle down 

a page. I’ve lost myself by a wall tracing the conical caps 

and ridges of each stone, the rude diagonals of a toppled 

cord of wood. Grace tracing lines, as if one moves 

closer to primal design, the Lord a draftsman first. 

Ups, downs, lefts, rights, slow curving climbs and swift 

rounded falls, dizzying spirals, the music and motion 

of sight driven to define itself in the sparest of terms. 

Line refreshes when we’re overwhelmed by the boisterous 

play of color and mass—the sketch that leads us back 

to what the mural will become. Perhaps it’s most 

like reading, the way our eyes move along a line 

that turns and proceeds at a varying pace, the pleasures 

of poetry over prose, a proclivity hard-wired in us 

that grants shape to thought and feeling, or an earlier claim—

the need to follow a path. I’m happy walking in snow, 

taking in the fluent forms, all the patterns vision traces.

                                       from The Double Task