Feeling the cold approaching, water’s molecules bundle together like penguins in a rookery, bracing against the wind, becoming ice, white sapphire expanding in the frigid air. But just because water changes to ice, its motives are not subdued. It is still an animal, hungry for its prey. It now uses its flashy form to hypnotize the eye, lure us in its glassy wonder, and then rip our feet from under us, our bodies plummeting to the cold.
Shape shifter. A planet of ice hurtles towards the earth in the shade of the sun; a film of ice nudges weary drivers to feel a moment of helplessness and of life, their tires locking as they skid on the laminated pavement.
Like Vesuvius’ lava hardened over Pompeii, ice too can stop time. It can make a photograph that slowly melts, dripping like water from negatives off a clothesline in a darkroom.
Ice is nocturnal. It opens its eyes under the coolness of the moon and its pupils sparkle. Armies of glaciers march across oceans at night, clearing their path to the military beat of the waves. Meanwhile, icicle stalactites sharpen the tip of their steel with every drop. Ribbons of ice swallow too much air and form butterfly wings.
But ice, like any animal, is transient and easily domesticated. Everything puddles sometime. We lock it in trays, then drown it in bubbling brown syrup and burning booze. Skaters shave ice rinks like a back scratched with long fingernails. In Montreal, men accustomed to the cold, filet ice blocks like butchers, while others, shovels hoisted, tap the crème brulee of a February lake.
Dylan Wagman is a Toronto based poet and a graduate from York University’s Creative Writing program. These three poems are part of a manuscript in progress that explores life and death from the recent past to the modern world. Dylan was the recipient of the 2013 bp nichol Award and won second prize in the Robbie Burns Poetry Contest in 2011. Dylan has been published in The Steel Chisel (“Infuse”), The Fieldstone Review (“The Skyline Circus”), and Deadbeats (forthcoming) (“Gathering Darkness”).