(after Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways)
You make a choice, to walk out
onto the frozen crust of a northern lake,
even in what seems to be
the coldest of mid-Januarys.
One night, two weeks ago, in a sudden thaw,
an ice-fishing hut slipped under,
angled, swallowed whole, disappeared.
You must choose to walk with open heart,
mind split wide, hemispheres of brain
emptying themselves onto rough shoreline
because it is not logic or reason that
has you catching your breath, unaware,
startled by such beauty.
Out beyond this bay,
the horizon loses itself,
turns around, searches,
frantic for the intimate spaces
where floor of mottled ice
touches vast ceiling of winter sky.
Make a snow angel here,
arms and legs out wildly,
so that you track the flight
of an eagle, or take in the call
of a raven, silhouettes high above you,
feathers etched in air, frozen.
Afterwards, the dog, spent
from chasing rogue snow drifts
and misplaced porcupines,
thinks small mirrors of ice
promise her water,
only to velvet-nose them,
tongue lolling, dreams of
swimming in summer.