Hard Water

Hard Water
by Susan Keiser
In early spring I can almost believe in a frozen lake,
ice locomotives rattling my windows, belching
glacial steam in needles across trackless hardened water;
cold more bitter than persimmon on a
thin-lit, glassy afternoon,
but I know that solid is a lie.
In early spring, late afternoon, arctic winds
blow a fresh glaze over smooth acres of inland sea.
But this is not February.
We are just beyond the shortest month.
The polished lie hardens to evening’s approach,
superficial, lovely;
under softened ledges far below,
fish sense the transition.
But sense or no, I feel we’ve fallen
below freezing; snow, drifting off into the night
on the back of the wind, across hard water.
By morning, my feet have grown trusting again
on a glass floor made solid, buoyant,
a floating granite sea.
In early spring, too late for good sense,
I may read the Almanac or the tea leaves.
I may turn a poor gaze far across a snow swept plain
but I am never to be trusted,
not now, not in this dangerous season and
no, never on thin ice.

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