High and Bright and Fine and Ice

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
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
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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