Variation 3: Snapping Turtles

Borne forward by extended increments.
                       Crawling waterward from this weed wilted shore.

Like small furred voles skittering inward, taking little
                       grounded, mirrored steps: Like this, intervals of ice

ridge and rime the pond rim. By night. As if
                       by dreaming ice might cast its million limbs

over that surface above. Its frozen tincture
                       outfolding farther, farther unfurling across. By dawn:

The moonspread scales then a foregone conclusion.
                       Constructed, transmutable truth: All day ice

shrinking from the light, reconsidering.
                       And still, in leaving, leaving its lingering

doubt, pale shadow of wingspan edgebound.
                       Near. Then again in dark the cold falling, fallen

to glow on the meniscus, ice groping forward with more
                       sliding white. Ice: Its own logic, growing:

Its horizontal precipice. Its glass
                       carapace. Night's cold and hoary

frost. Vaster still till all its heirs' outstretched
                       tips interslip, imprint with their ferny whorls

an entire span between lands.
                       To travel that unthinkably far! And then, having reached

to cry out more room!—crack
                       like a shell, heave between its crushing shores.

But which pressing which? And what boundary
                       divides water from ice, what self

solidifies against self, which is water—host or
                       whore? Ice now in spring dissolving, dissolute

reversal by increments retreating. Not I,
                       alive, here mudnudged under eaves, forming

my young egg by egg, mother's lasting bequest.
                       To nest once in heat. To hatch and be born.


Alice B Fogel, "Variation 3: Snapping Turtles" from Interval. Copyright © 2015 by Alice B Fogel. Reprinted by permission of Alice B Fogel.
Source: Interval (Schaffner Press, 2015)
More Poems by Alice B. Fogel