Frozen River

Frozen River (2019) is an experimental work of photography, film and poetry made in the Saltovka district of Kharkov, Ukraine.  Conceived as a gallery installation, the project proposes a relay of meaning in which each of the three media behaves like the other two in order to be itself.  Still photographs move the mind to the brink of motion, stillness moves through moving pictures, the visible surfaces of the world are as poetic as they are factual, and a picture's inner imagination lends itself to a poem's images.  In the installation, photographs, video and stanzas of the following poem all hang equally, side by side, in the space of the gallery.


last year’s winter saw me staring at a frozen river
and in time its broken ice, like a broken mirror
too snowdusted for reflection––

it is not so easy to say what covers a frozen river,
as it is not so easy to guess the depth of a grave,
or the particular weight of ill fate,
or the echo of an age––

last year’s winter saw me staring at a frozen river
whose ice laid down gashes, rhymeless as a chase,
and cut constellations whose nodal points
sparkled like gems, and taunted the thieves
plotting escape into the thieflands––

it is not so easy to guess which facts appearances separate,
which image approaches the surfaces of the grey and the houses,
which distances observe the air surrounding the earth,
which language best enumerates the sun’s beams
and which shatters the illusion that they can be counted at all––

this year’s winter sees me staring at a different frozen river,
not the wisÅ‚a, not the brow of kraków, rather the kharkov, almost russia,
this one bridgeless and almost unbridged,
sullen at midday, slumbersome at midnight,
almost wild, almost undisastered, almost a frozen victoryflag
proclaiming the surrender of the still-breathing breath of the holocausts–––

it is not so easy, after all, to distinguish pokeweeds from unknown soldiers,
or gaunt years from wasted laments,
or lost strength from the fruit of despair,
or the rare gold of christian halos from the pale gold of jewish counterpoint,
or the houses the ancestors might remember from the harmony of a palpable emptiness,
or the evening from the morning of the first new day–––

this year’s winter sees me scouting the banks of a frozen river
for the chance to spot the angel of death and the lion of life
sitting together on a shabbes morning, each in a restless solitude almost a michtam of david,
each with knowledge that blinks sunset into sunrise and forbids piety,
each groaning appeals to the trees and the firebush gods,
i spot them from a distance through the icelocked branches of saltovka,
sitting above the clouds and beyond the scaling wind––

it is not so easy to say the circle of sun as against the ideal riddle,
not so easy to tell a drifting memory from a moving tomorrow,
not so easy to discern the frozen river from the swinging flutestrands otherwise called willows,
not so easy to pull winterblessings from snowshadows,
not so easy to speak the nature of things as they rise into mind
from the eastrunning faultlines of the unfinished tefillah––