contrasts on a frozen surface

the contrast between life and death
is ice and winter melting into spring,
& scandinavian patterns fall apart
each time i hear that Bowie song, playing
on the day we met on Basle ice rink,

we talked knitting patterns, crazy
as it sounds, i thought it was a nice approach,
we never fell in love though–
just held hands when we played tag in pairs
with all the others, yet–

on days without you,
life looked dull and,
skating ‘cross the ice,
i kept searching for the trails
you left the other week

it was the season’s end and i still see
the terror in your eyes, she was

just thirteen & the scent of death
swam like an oil film in the puddles at our feet,

an early spring-sun tried to warm our backs as
we sat on the boards, heads bent—

& all we did was–
hacking tiny holes
into a frozen surface

.

over at dVerse, Victoria has a finely textured Meeting the Bar article waiting for us at 3pm EST…be sure to swing by to get some valuable input on contrast in poems


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47 responses to “contrasts on a frozen surface

  1. Hi Claudia, such a mysterious misty poem really–as always it has your flare and beautiful pacing and combination of direction and deflection. (I mean that in the best of senses.) K.

    • it’s a true story… the memories came back with the song…and the skates on the pic are the skates i wore back then.. got them when i was twelve…and never bought new ones..smiles

  2. Having lived in Canada for almost 30 years now … I sure know what you mean … in a way … I guess … oh, I don’t know, but I’ll never leave my one and only )Canadian) love … complicated story … Love you, Claudia, love you for your ability to put my feelings into words … happy festive season, always, cat.

  3. I was a miserable failure at ice-skating(bad ankles) but I always envied the flying kids who could do it–you bring back some Chicago winter pictures for me, with that ominous sense of danger under the ice that is the reality of winter under the snowy lace.

  4. Intriguing, the thought of not falling in love, and yet having the impact, and the memories obviously linger for many years. So very touching Claudia and beautifully expressed 🙂

  5. Wow, Claudia. The contrast you paint makes my hair stand on end. I would have guessed, even if you’d not told us, that this came from a true experience. The details are so well-defined and the emotion so acute. Wonderful poem.

  6. eh yeah – brings back memories… I loved the scent of death
    swam like an oil film in the puddles at our feet,
    (as a metaphor, I mean)

  7. I’m guessing the ‘she was just thirteen’ means the ‘she’ died very young to have the scent of death about her. I think our best writing always comes from having experienced the feelings. It’s clear that whatever happened affected you deeply and the feeling has not dimmed at all over the passage of time.
    What a sad but lovely, write from you.

  8. “i kept searching for the trails
    you left the other week”

    this directly relates to your “story” but also has everything to do with all friends.

  9. Claudia, the distance between life and death is not so much. Your poem captures that feeling for me….and I can smell the scent of death. Anyone who has experienced that can. A moving poem…for me

  10. hey friend…you gave me tingles…capturing the moemtn but also hinting at something so much more…vivid the hacking at the ice following so closely behind the 13 year old girl it def does not forebode well…i went ice skating this morning…terrible time…ha…not my sport at all…smiles…

  11. I loved (past tense) ice-skating–and Claudia, I sensed from the first words, this was a real event in your life. A beautifully complicated memory. Is it the ‘season’ which has us looking back? (sigh!).

    I’se right with you…and those skates!
    PEACE!

  12. Youth is filled with such emotion and forming tight bonds–this came across so beautifully in your story. I see this is a true story—you mentioned death…it often brings awkward silence to the young.

  13. Those first to lines are pure poetry… They have the profound ring of the greatest writers I have read. The scenario you capture carries a painful nostalgia of lost days. A very moving poem.

  14. On a reread, I see Scandinavian knitting images throughout this, the little holes in the ice, the trails, the paired patterns. At first I was struck by the skating images (I’m from Northern Ontario), the blossoming friendship, the death, but that knitting snuck up.

  15. Claudia, thanks for sharing those memories, and doing it so poetically. Wonderful job here, great job of using contrast and again, a wonderful piece. Thanks, Merry Christmas a bit early

  16. Never was I able to skate… in the ice— even less. Now your words Claudia kind of invite me to give it another try- or rather give in for life

    Your mist and mistery in the ice is amazing
    Great work. lady!

  17. mysterious piece on death & life, winter & spring….full of potential love, yet seared by sadness and loss. I like play on words:
    & scandinavian patterns fall apart
each time i hear that Bowie song, playing
on the day we met on Basle ice rink,
    nice poem.

  18. I felt the icy air yet found warmth buried in your words..
    many great lines in this poem Claudia..

    especially like this stanza:
    “on days without you,
    life looked dull and,
    skating ‘cross the ice,
    i kept searching for the trails
    you left the other week”

  19. I agree with the others that it felt quite mysterious at the end. How fascinating to know from the comments that this is a true story. Great write.

  20. how classical are those first few lines? they ring of many of age – and again I am most intrigued by how you word and place things, it all just fits in – this is an almost melancholic poem at times – the contrasts and parodies – of memories on ice, melting – “we never fell in love though–
    just held hands when we played tag in pairs” – great write!!

  21. There’s a lot of mystery in this poem. What I like about it is that the poem is what it is, but it allow, or even forces, the reader to fill in the blanks, create a story that is your story, but is also the story in the reader’s mind. Some poets can pull this off, but most cannot. Good work.