70 Below Wind Chill

by Susan Firer

Black ice enters the collective
vocabulary.  Vapor midair freezes;
ice crystals are everywhere.
Oatmeal sounds good.
The city stumble closes.
In the stalled Siberian front (-25),
not one pair of long johns are left
in our cold local Target.  Through
it all, the lake moves east in ice,
beautifully gives itself up, rises
in human-shaped steam bodies,
like a late night scare movie.
Steam devils the shivering weather-
man calls the human-sized ghost
shapes that dolphin-tail-walk move
over and away from the forming ice.
The lake gives itself up, returns all 
its ghosts:  swallowed snow mobilers, &
great lake ship captains, murdered
wives, the passengers of capsized boats,
suicides, & diaper-tossed, drowned, lost
babies.  All come forward with the cremated 
lake-buried dead, all wild shaped as spring
overgrown-alley, light-lavender lilacs.
And if you look long enough, everyone &
everything you've ever known comes toward you
& becomes you.  Every night
on the TV news weather report
they show frost bit toes, or ears, 
or fingers.  Last night, the toes
looked like odd-crescent chocolate
cookies dipped in C&H sugar; the fingers
were one shade darker than river salmon. 

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