Midwestern winters ask kids to make
a risky reckoning best left to the wise,
standing at the edge of a snowdusty pond
and measuring its slab of ice against
the way the weather’s been and how long
and daring (or not) to step out onto it.
But this is Northwest February and
I barely get to speak of ice at all out here,
or hear tales of boys fallen through
over the years and how once you’re under
the black water moves to hide the hole you made.
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 walk around the sound,
well trained by a place where
the weather asks so much of them
and the ice is always on their tongues.