There's something below the cold in these hollow winter months.
Cold you can manage.
Layer your friends like insulation about your neck.
Laugh through conversations.
Avoid the use of words.
They swell like sponges, too full, too heavy.
In the spring you'll take a trip to dry them in the sun.
Coats turn to blubber,
but the chill comes through your feet.
This memory of water, of wind,
of the girl who skates beyond the ice and stays
Maybe you'll visit her grave today, you think.
After coffee, and a ball game.
After the day's chores have fluttered down like feathers from a wing.
Maybe tomorrow, you think, when it isn't so dark,
when the cold doesn't remind you of lips against the snow;
of stomach on packed sleet;
of peering through the water glass.
You were young, then.
you waved back.
It took years before you realized--not waving,
not with fists.
She was beneath the ice,
striking at her own reflection.
You listened to the gentle whaps.
Slow drums in the distance.
Your sister's white knuckles
the frozen river.
So soft, so quiet.
You counted them out loud.
You thought it was a game.