after reading Mary Oliver You will not long remember which part is dream and which is waking parable. Having filled your head with American poems— virgilian guides—you’ve waded into sleep’s black wood a more primitive you crashing through the tangled ripe undergrowth. None can say what thrushes wing there, what honeyed berries swell wild in the bush, what litanies, what rites. As dawn returns, you return more nearly to your self, growing, perhaps, more conscious of your children sleeping lightly now nearby. Light laps like water along the shore where you know what you must do, what herculean feat. Now at the frozen mountain lake that is your life, you take a mammoth hammer so large you cannot wield it—and poise it even so above your head. Bearing down with force, you smash the white glistening plane, opaque and lovely, but not before the ice, hexagons expanding, cracks the dam you did not know was there. The crystal slabs of all that floating ice refracting light in each direction will blind you. Dizzy you will fall down and under water. You may wonder then whether and which way to swim, the press of searing water constricting you on every side. Perhaps you will fight the flow a while, limbs frogging toward the surface, a warmer more familiar light, lungs burning. It doesn’t matter. You will not ever breathe again—not like that. Pray for gills. Fighting, or no, you will come to the lip of the lake, crowning round out the breach in the dam. You might slip-slide straight through, or the water may squeeze for hours nudging inch by slow inch, but sooner or later you will emerge from your tense matrix to find yourself flung wide and spilling down mountains in the roaring stream. Bruised, you will come to cliff fall after cliff fall, swan diving ever down and down, eternally drowned. Looking about, you will see gilled angels splitting the water, leaping in spasms of wonder at your side.