Spring rose clean as birches
during my last leap year home.
For the past ten years, I spent winter
afternoons on this lake. Soon I’d
be the first to graduate, but this evening
I skated with my hockey stick and some
primitive rhythm composed for blade
and tin. I shot the puck, an old tuna can,
away from the bridge’s thin ice. Landing
on edge it rolled, skirting the shore’s marshes.
My blades cut into ice, and speed
was skate-plowed snow dusting my feet.
Catching my puck, I drew a bead
on the pile of ice a fisherman made
to mark his site.
Slapping my stick against the ice, I whirled,
and my breathing followed the customs of its being.
I knew little about manhood coming as quick as spring,
or how to interpret these signs: chuckholes rimmed
with mud, icicles hung on Thunder Bridge;
a dog’s nose tight to the ground on an island beach.
Maybe, they were designed to mean little
because nothing happened. The wind continued
to lie between winter and spring. As I skated,
I thought about how good it was that the islands –
like the ice — were full of cracking sounds.
Removing my cap, I raced the darkness.
On the bank I paused to catch my breath
before sprinting on the tips of my blades
to the basement. As I entered the house,
nothing could contain the joy of my youth;
except, the gust of wind, blowing mist
off the snow, capped fence.