Patrick Kelly

text only

Ice now where last week
was lake, skates a half size
too small, sound of the blade
when it cuts across the ice,
the determined slice
through a thin layer of water
brought up by the afternoon sun.
The surface is thinning
almost imperceptibly as I
stand dying at the lip of the lake
under woolen sweater and hat,
my bloated feet
throbbing inside the skates.
I feel myself falling through this
skin, and the panic of not finding
the hole to come back for a
breath. I am always this way,
not just on ice.

Did you know that
when a body is fished from a lake,
it is rare that the person has drowned?
Cold water braces the inner ear,
triggers a response that stops
the heart. The two are
strangely connected. Like you and I are.
You wave to me from across the ice.
Am I breathing right now? I wave back,
a meaningless gesture
like moving a hand in front of my
mouth when hot food sears my tongue. I am
bursting with these gestures.
Is there anything worse,
anything less human,
than not being loved?

It is only getting colder, you fade
behind the fog,
spinning on one toe, arms folded
across your chest like a corpse, a spinning
corpse, a graceful spinning corpse.