Christmas, 2000 / No. 4

out on the frozen lake,

somewhere between a beach and too far

away to see,

there is a brown thing

and a smaller, darker thing

beside it;

proportioned like a seated man

and his small, black dog

lying near him—

except, they’ve been there a week;

garbage, most likely,

ice-hut refuse, left to

find its way to the lake bottom

after all the huts have slid back to shore—

their true homes, where they

sit, shaded, through warm unchanging gestations;

nine months in leafy seclusion

between garage and hedge,

disturbed only for ninety short days

and long nights

of brilliant sky and distance

but what they leave behind remains;

a man and his dog.

ten minutes of nervous

ice walking brings them no closer,

and the slow heave of a lake’s

skin cancels ambition;

whatever they are, out there

beyond binoculars, they are alone,

but for each other;

unknown, waiting for spring