Edited by Dava Sobel

Absent of taproot, the black spruce leans madly
where permafrost slumps into thermokarst. Who
wouldn't fall down soused when the ground beneath
began to melt, to buckle and sink? Who wouldn't drink?

In the boreal forests, in a landscape staggered
with lurching birches, ice is a memory, while farther
north, where glaciers begin to thin, ice is memory,
or the keeper of memories, a kind of collective mind

in which buried deep are layers of ancient volcanic ash,
soot from fires primeval, banked bubbles of archaic air—
stories stored, frozen, in cerulean cerebral cortex, a vortex
stilled, which soon may spill. The polar ice, in stripes, remembers

what we weren't here to recall, but as with all memory,
what is buried in the blue yonder—if it escapes the icescape—
could kill us. Deep memory is a danger zone. Ice is another
nether. No wonder it numbs. No wonder it burns.