I tell you to wait on the shore,
Because the water would ruin your makeup,
Because you look warm in your dry skirt and coat,
And because, if I fall in, maybe you can help me out,
Though I doubt it.
Every step is unsure of itself.
I envision myself falling through the ice
Into that cold world of slower motion,
Thrashing like a king-sized bed sheet in the wind
Until I resign myself and wait
For that nirvana, the white light in the chest
That I imagine the last part of drowning to feel like.
I’m afraid, like a pregnant married woman
Unsure of who the father is.
To avoid the thought, I liken falling through the ice
To knocking an eight-ball into the corner pocket too soon.
Then I remember you
Are still on the shore, waiting to see
If I’ll fall in. “It’s good,” I yell,
Standing on the center of the ice,
“You’re lighter than me; it’ll support you.”
You waddle toward me, a fast penguin.
While you approach, I realize
How stupid I am, forgetting that,
When we stand together,
We’ll weigh more than I do alone.
But you reach me just in time for me to kiss you.
There was no rush, of course. I only said ‘just in time’
To create a sense of non-defeat
That is also still not a victory,
Which is all I can hope for now
As we cross the ice again,
This time together, back to the shore.
Samuel Hovda is an undergraduate at Winona State University studying Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in Poetry Quarterly, Midwest Literary Magazine, and the bad futurist. He was a finalist for the 2011 Rebecca Lard Award for Poetry.