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Ice

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In the warming house, children lace their skates,   
bending, choked, over their thick jackets.

A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,

clumping across the frozen beach to the river.   
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,

the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men

with wooden barriers to put up the boys’   
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,

of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,

then—twilight, the warming house steamy   
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs

aching. Outside, the hockey players keep   
playing, slamming the round black puck

until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.

Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,

braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,

find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?

 “Ice” from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems by Gail Mazur. Copyright © 2005 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Source: The Common (The University of Chicago Press, 1995)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 1987 issue of Poetry magazine

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Ice

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