Bruce Beasley

Like Warm Ice Cubes
May 21, 2020 Beasley Bruce

Like Warm Ice Cubes
__________________________________________

 

‘A father is like warm
ice cubes?’
I can’t get any meaning out of that one, Doc

—Asked to interpret intentionally
absurd proverbs, most
“normal” subjects refused

but three out of four psychotics dared
explicate: to A wet bird flies at night
a patient said
You may not know the hour or time
that God shall come
 
and so confirmed his schizophrenia diagnosis.

God is a sopped bird, night-flying. A father
 
is water’s phase transition
in process, trembling
between turbid crystalline
and translucent thermal wet,

oxymoronic

as the anomalous proverb, night-
flown and deepdrenched in its unmeaning.
 
__________________________________________________
 
A father’s oxymoronic as the word
oxymoron,
which means, after all,
sharp-dull:
acute-moronic in Greek.

Acute, moronic, the meaning-stripped
proverbs provide, the researchers say,
“a meaningful
dimension in a clinician’s repertory.”

Have you ever held an ice cube in your fist
long enough to feel
the caverns of its sharpdull
collapse from the bodywarmth
trickle at its core?
Heteromorphic nonesuch, a father

in his natural form
is rigid, hexagonal, strictly fixed.
Whoever even tries to interpret him
is, prima facie, unstable.
He’ll surrender his self-structure
only when touched and so
transfigured.

Melting’s a speed-up of the molecules
so they can disorder
themselves and break

their self-attraction

and so unstiffen, slide
around each other
and get
away:

Cubic, liqueous, semi-vitreous,
a father
buoys himself on what’s becoming
of his newloosed, unexpectantly
warm-flown-outward self.

_____________________________________________

Oxymoronic’s
antonym is plain, which means
“without intricacies or difficulties.”

My father, who told me at 11
never to cry again, boys
aren’t allowed to look so weak,
when I was 13 blubbered
over how drunk he always was, how
ashamed I must be of him, said
Bruce, can you cry too?
No, Sir, I said.  I can’t.
______________________________________

With
intricacies, with difficulties, a father
stabblunts
his way into thaw, which
is a spreading defect of the crystal,
the breaking of all its lattices, what it is.

________________________________________

The ice cube father keeps it together,
my son Jin said,
while the liquid father has much less of a spine
and can boil over very easily.

So which am I, I asked.

Ice cube, of course.
 
_________________________________________

“To differentiate schizophrenics from normals”
researchers developed the Silly Sentences Test:
patients vote True or False to statements like
“Beefsteaks crawl on their bellies.”
True, a schizophrenic answered, confirming
his diagnosis, a cow is still alive before it’s slaughtered,
so it could be true,
they could crawl on their bellies a bit.

__________________________________________

“A father is like warm ice cubes”:
True, I say, we could be—
a collapsed cube-side could crawl on its belly a bit
inside the crystal
where the parallel-faced
hard amalgamation disintegrates
as ice-walls give themselves over to the liqueous
state they once knew, vibrating
faster within and quickened
so they can reach
toward another by shedding
the voids between their lattices:
thawdribbled ice,
freezecrystalled melt, passing out of themselves, coming
warmthickcloser, and getting through.

Bruce Beasley is a professor of English at Western Washington University and author of nine collections of poems, including Theophobia, All Soul Parts Returned, and–forthcoming this fall from Orison Books–Prayershreds.