I don’t get to stand at the edge of a snowdusty lake and measure
with my child’s eye – squint against the bonefocused wind –
its slab of ice against the way the weather’s been and for how long
and then dare to step out onto it. I barely get to speak of ice
at all out here, much less hear tales of boys fallen through
over the years (I’ll have to ask mom why it was never a girl)
and how once you’re under the ice the mean water moves invisibly
to get you lost so you can never find the hole you made. And of course
in your soaked coat and wet-leaden mittens you will tire too quickly
to swim to that gray ring of sky before blueblack hypothermia hits.
I barely get to speak of ice out here or worry that a spot of skin’s
gone white. The weather asks so little of me that I have to beg
memory to list wispy words and show hung pictures of winterfear.
But memory’s different from knowing like guessing’s different from
fearing and I know that if I ever do get to speak of ice out here it’ll be
so whisperthin that every one of mom’s drowning boys would have
measured it beneath them to even try. They would just go around,
well trained by a place where the weather asks so much of them,
walking with fluid truth across the stonefrozen earth of a wintering farm
to find some way maybe to become a drowned ghost in the memory of
an old man’s couched and comfortable search for a reason to remember.