Just Below

The first cracks in the ice are invisible 

barely audible beneath the silence of the winter woods

Cautious step after caution step

        as if there was a way to mitigate the weight 

The trees fall out of focus 

the dull grey of the sky is brought to brightness in the reflection

off the glassy surface

They say that if you are out and the ice begins to break

you should lie flat

spread yourself out 

hope that you can trick the ice into believing

you are smaller than you really are

But at that point, honestly, the lake is seeping through

there is more water than ice

In the movies, heroes make the split second decision and 

run over the disappearing surface like jesus on water

Is this whole act one of faith 

or is it an incredible exercise in denial?


      you can see the cracks

      you can hear the echos through the covered water

      each step holds the same weight and

      spread thin or standing firm, you are still you


14 thoughts on “Just Below

  1. Wow! I’m going to be thinking about this all day. You do such a good job at letting the reader experience the physical world through your writing. I feel transported and transformed by your descriptions of nature.
    Really beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your poem brought back memories of the hours I spent on a frozen lake ice skating when I was a kid. I never once thought about the ice cracking. When I think back I can’t believe I was allowed to skate there. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is powerful. There are so many things I could point out in the rhythm and the sounds of the words and the internal rhyme, but I think I will just go with that last line: “spreading thin or standing firm, you are still you.” That’s one I will carry with me.

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  4. Of course the last line has to be THE line—and it is. But so many other lodge firmly in the brain and heart:”the lake is seeping through/there is more water than ice.” And “trick the ice into believing/you are smaller than you really are.” For some reason I think of George Saunders’ short story, “Tenth of December.” I love this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad you tried a poem slice. I once walked on some very thick and crystal clear ice. I was terrified. The eerieness of the experience and the moans were hard to ignore. I wanted to run back but I was so fascinated by the lake’s bottom I continued to stand and shuffle gently.
    I saw an earlier comment you made and I like the comparison. Writing poetry can sometimes feel like walking ice. Is it safe, am I being careful enough yet a bit daring? I enjoyed your poem and the places you intentionally placed the italicized “can” as well as all the places you made us think about what is being seen and felt–and was it really about ice at all…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoy reading your daily posts. You have a way with words. My favorite posts are your poems. I love the entire poem, but the final line “spread thin or standing firm, you are still you” is the one that I keep coming back to. It is the perfect ending (and so true).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness, Amy! This is a gorgeous poem. You brought the natural world into clear focus + taught me something about laying flat if the ice begins to break. (I never knew that. I also hope that’s knowledge I’ll never need, but I’m tucking it away… just in case.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. SO beautiful. I love the literal images–I love walking on frozen lakes in the winter–and I also love all the metaphors that can be drawn from the poem. The ending is absolutely gorgeous. “each step holds the same weight and/spread thin or standing firm, you are still you” I hope you’re holding onto yourself–even though you’re spread thin this year, you’re still that amazing teacher and writer you have been.

    Liked by 1 person

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