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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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