Monday, 22 January 2018

Skating Backwards

by Jill Crainshaw


He just keeps skating on, thermal gloves flashing
purple and black against the marbled sky,
hostile to the numbing bone-chill in the air,
borrowed quicksilver blades biting the ice as
he skims arctic waters more treacherous
than he cares or is willing to let himself know,
tense muscles pushing hard to keep getting
there, and all the while over his shoulder,
a bejeweled willow bows low over ice scarred
by tangled tales he scratches out as he
forges ahead across the frosty expanse.
I walk on the glassy water in street shoes
and yearn for a fissure, a stumble,
a fall, a turning. Squinting down through
distorting wintry lenses, I think I see
the burnt orange shadow of a sunfish eager
for a splash of summer sun. But winter has not
yet finished her work. Then I hear giggles.
A red-mittened girl and her wind-blushed
mother. Face to face they make their
way with awkward delight across the lake,
holding hands and choreographing
a tenacious dance as first one and then
the other learns to skate backwards.


* * * * *

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She enjoys exploring how words give voice to unexpected ideas, insights and visions.



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