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High and Bright and Fine and Ice

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When the motorboat man asked me to love him
 
I whispered precipice
the word for the no-more-boyfriend feeling
 
because precipice contains ice (practically twice)
because I wanted teetering—
 
 
What? he said
Yes
 
His ears from the engines—so hard of hearing—his hands always
  so hot
 
 
Mid our first winter—I’d clung so long to the dock
he had to crowbar my fingers off
 
Each digit cracked so cleanly
Would you say they break like icicles? I asked sweetly
 
 
I knew I was nothing! But if I could sustain one song—
I is, I is, I is I is I is
 
I could be: ice
 
 
Sex on the bathroom’s cold marble counter was best
I whispered statuette, monument
 
What? he, sculpting my legs, said
 
Yes
 
 
The child? I named her Cecily
It sounded like iced lily
 
 
For pure, I said pristine
At the ocean, I said brine
 
Isle for vacation; for flowers, edelweiss
 
But when I said (only of late, late!) I choose ice
Brittle pearls broke behind my syllables
 
Did he hear me?
Again, twice, thrice:
 
For my love
we would need to live
in a great pyramid
We would need to sleep
beneath the continental shelf
with Antarctic crust blanketing us
The only driveway to any kind of house
is an iceberg-ridden Northwest Passage
When I whispered universe
you were to translate it as
one bright line
one bright rime

Darcie Dennigan, “High and Bright and Fine and Ice” from Madame X. Copyright © 2012 by Darcie Dennigan. Reprinted by permission of Canarium Books.
Source: Madame X (Canarium Books, 2012)
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High and Bright and Fine and Ice

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