Variation 3: Snapping turtle
Alice 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.
Alice B. Fogel
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