If the Crust of Ice Gives Way, What Then?

This time of year ice forms on the lake,
Later melts, freezes again next day,
The silver cover inches thinly
As it narrows against the shore.
The suspense is worth the looking
Several times a day to watch the water
Solid, then flowing, then solid in the frigid air.

Two days ago, a neighbor down the street
Said her poodle ran out on the ice at night.
She raised her head to call,
Threw off her coat, prepared
To take a dive to save his life
If crust of ice gave way, gave him
Thirty seconds space before
He turned and walked her way.

How does it feel, I wanted to ask,
To have such warmth of heart
You’d risk your life to save your dog?
What transcendent feeling, what urge
Within her dizzy head?
What foolish, thoughtless spiral
Plunge into the ice, what revealing story
Would they repeat at her cold wake?
That she gave her life for love?

It is a variation on a chilling theme,
This love, this desperate adoration,
This surge or sickness that
Locks the joints of self-preservation,
Freezes blood to sacrifice, to trust
A flash of light to save a life.


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