By Brenda Becker
So suddenly you slipped beneath.
You strode out strong across the unmarked white,
Footfalls plunging down on frozen turf.
If there was a sign—
Danger, Stay back—you missed it, future-drawn
Amid the bare trees.
And then, a crack;
A nothingness arose around your feet, and icewater closed fast around your heart.
I rushed out to the lake,
My mission clear,
Launched onto my belly, easy now, I’m here,
This is what I do.
Shifted and reached from deep inside my weight,
Nudged out the ladder, focused on your face,
a soft beacon of terror and apology
above the still dark island of your trust.
But the crust gave way,
The ladder was not long enough,
The water was too deep and cold.
I couldn’t reach you, had to turn away, but didn’t leave;
Together we waited, held apart by floe
Until the roar of rescue overhead
Bent the bare trees and opened up the sky.