It was when a song in the form of a question

meant for anyone who might have taken part

in conversation overheard by strangers

made clear the day before was like today, less

shade aligning fields within an open sky.

If my chronology is right it still could happen—

adolescents skating near a lake realize

the hum they heard more like a quatrain than

a warning antecedent to a message sent

was where the ice grew thinnest, near a present

soon-to-be outsourced. Their voices break

up under pressure, address a speaker

rather than speak through her—have you missed

a second, two or twenty thousand

ways to measure those who see themselves

twinned by shadows painted near a manmade lake.

That was when whole days went drifting,

blackouts served as an example, bells hidden

under pavement crowned with weeds derived

power from each failure: why not let the kids

believe quiet comes from multiplying questions,

alter headlights in a glare that only happens once?

Strangers made more strange by waiting

hear one too many versions of a theme

put in motion as the drone begins it is

the blue and crimson coloring the bronze,

maybe a bomb threat or a demonstration,

doesn’t matter how long sound takes to travel

while helicopters illuminate the fences

bordering the lake. Tones deepen,

icons on this evening’s news repeat

that opalescent streaks across the sky touched ice.

No one expects fists closed in defiance

although some parts may yet go on for years.

Begin a sequence every time alarms resound,

this is tomorrow and the sun

seems certain as horizons, day creeps down

where lakes divide one body from another

green hills open, subordinates

watch afternoon become a night-child

shuttling back from private space

to public damage, how else could it happen—

separate lines cross grids that never quite appear

within these memories of lived election: the pond,

lagoon, more empty billboards resting

or displacing sixty watts twelve chords away.

It might be June on Sunday centuries before

the next trimester, each term’s a sentence

during leap-year families extend

connections no one asks how many different

systems make nearly perfect figure-eights

wherever ice holds doors click shut,

light replaces dusk the skaters morning in. 

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