Variation 3: Snapping turtleAlice B. Fogel
Borne forward by extended increments. Crawling waterward from this weedwilted shore. Like small furred voles skittering inward, taking little grounded, mirrored steps: Like this, intervals of ice ridge and rime the pond rim. By night. As if by dreaming ice might cast its issue’s million limbs over that surface above. Its frozen tincture outfolding farther, farther unfurling across. By dawn: The moonspread scales then a foregone conclusion. Constructed, transmutable truth: All day ice shrinking from the light, reconsidering. And still, in leaving, leaving its lingering doubt, pale shadow of wingspan edgebound. Near. Then again in dark the cold falling, fallen to glow on the meniscus, ice groping forth with more sliding white. Ice: Its own logic, growing: Its horizontal precipice. Its glass carapace. Night’s cold straining flame, cold night’s hoary hand. Vaster still till all its heirs’ outstretched tips interslip, imprint with their ferny whorls an entire span between lands. To travel that unthinkably far! And then, having reached, to cry out overwrought more room!—crack like a shell, heave between its crushing shores. But which pressing which? And what boundary divides water from ice, what self solidifies against self, which is water—host or whore? Ice now in spring dissolving, dissolute, reversal by increments retreating. Not I, alive, here mudnudged under eaves, forming my young egg by egg, mother’s lasting bequest. To nest once in heat. To hatch and be born.
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