This time I'll take the back way into Hibbing,
past the looming red mine pit escarpments,
with here and there sprigs of pine through rock;
past the bend in the road where I once saw
lovers quarrel: car doors opening, slamming shut;
grimacing faces; a back and forth struggle with a suitcase.
I'll reach the same stark fork in the road
over which the sky is always a leaden vault,
go past the strange little roadside settlement
of winter people—frozen over, chidden by God.
Last I'll go under the ghostly viaduct (after which,
in a wave, time no longer seems real) and into town,
where I'll stop for gas and, just to resume commerce
with the human and the temporal, go inside
and buy something small I don't really need.
A misstep in the reeds, a shift in the wind—
Somewhere a breakdown, a cataclysm—
And the world seems ready to combust:
Heat emanating even from the pines,
Lawns seared vermilion in afternoon sun;
On clouded lakes, the dilemma of dying.
At the still point, the dark heart of the woods,
Chambers of the afterlife open:
Through yellow light, in underwater rooms,
My feet are cool on floors of blue stone.