12.03.14 It’s really cold outside now. When I walked out to catch a hint of late afternoon light, it felt like it was such a long time ago when we christened the new dock on the 4th of July. In this final month of the year, those warm summer days and endless sunlight are fading away into memory, which already feels distant. I begin to wonder if it was as grand as I thought it was. “One must have a mind for winter…” or it will play tricks with you.
I looked through my collection of winter poems in yesterday’s dim afternoon light. “Ice”, by Gail Mazur, has always been one of my favorites this time of year, when I’m missing my Dad who died on a Thanksgiving, and when I wish I could stop all things which must come to an end. When I was young, living in cold and dreary Ohio, I remember lacing my skates in warming houses, beside my cousins, in the twilight. I don’t know if my father and I skated together in those old memories, but it feels like we did when I read this poem. I know that he made me feel graceful and beautiful when I was a little girl. Trick of the mind? I don’t know, but this is why we read poetry on a cold December day.
Ice, by Gail Mazur
In the warming house, children lace their skates,
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.
A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,
clumping across the frozen beach to the river,
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,
the first sheet ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men
with wooden barriers to put up the boys’
hockey rink. And hour of skating after school,
of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,
then–twilight, the warming house steamy
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs
aching. Outside, the hockey players keep
playing, slamming the round black puck
until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.
Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm, onto the blurred surface together,
braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,
find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?