On the Ice

By Lori Howe

Dusk crosses
slender blue wrists
over the lake,
and the fishermen
with their augers
and bright jackets
haul away fishhuts
weathered like shafthouses
of silver mines
from the Sierra Madres.

Clouds of fogged breath
lace around the men
with their iced eyebrows
and grunts
as they lug full iceboxes
into the beds of pickups.
Inside,
sleek, scaled bodies,
yet breathing, twine together,
delaying death
with their fiercest heat.

Tail lights recede, dim,
disappear.
The lake reclaims its hush,
stills,
and begins to speak
in nightvoice,
whaletongue,
and we slide out onto the pebbled eyelid
of ice,
cold coming through
our thickest socks and boots.

We wait, silent, hearing with our feet
the seething of ultramarine blood,
the twitching of bones,
rumbles of omens
and restless spirits,
as the ice stretches and heaves,
shifting and cracking like gunshots,
and beneath that, glints and gleamings
of sound like whales calling across the darkness.

And we, small minutes of soft flesh
and clacking teeth, stand perfectly still,
as though we might translate
this tectonic music
into some hoped-for message
from a generous God.

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Categories: Issue 4, Poetry | Leave a comment

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