Friday, December 5, 2014

When the River Ices Over

An old woman goes walking. Early morning. Before dawn. Her husband sleeps in his bed. She leaves hers. Goes out silently, remembering the dog that raised such a fuss. Woke the whole house. Now she goes unnoticed. No fuss. She crosses the yard, steps carefully down beside the dock. Out onto December ice dusted with November snow, she walks. And dreams of a thin coating of ice over the river under her feet. Of listening to the spiderweb of cracks pluck one against the other. The feel of gravity before it pulls her down. She breathes easy. Holds herself still. Lets the ice of dreams collapse and black water swallow her, carrying her away. But this ice is too thick for her dreaming. No cracks. No openings. Just a silent expanse of emptiness upriver and down. The wind blows and she wishes for her scarf. A long rope of yarn she made long ago. Left on the hook up in the house. Too far to go back. She walks upriver. Against the wind, the frozen current. An old woman walking. In frozen darkness long before day. Above her head a billion stars swirl and eddy down onto the ice. Beneath which some mysterious life goes on in the impossible cold and dark of December.