Lake Ontario In Midwinter

Lindsay Knisely

 

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Walking over the frozen
      shallows, I stop
where the crust of snow ends.
      Wild swans drift past
the floes, as the lake shifts
      under a glistening skin.
It's hard to stay on the edge
      of the ice; we've lost two
dogs to the heaving surge.
      I kneel and slip
my hand in. Stones of ice
      close around my wrist.
The water is far too cold,
      as sweetly dense and pliable
as metal. I back away
      from the rising slush.

The dogs are not locked
      under the ice below me;
they washed up years ago
      in Irondequoit Bay, their silver
tags frozen to their fur.
      Perhaps they were chasing
swans. Beyond me,
      the gray cygnets are barely
visible in the fading light,
      moving back and forth, as though
erasing their eddying pathways
      in the water, as though the past
itself could slip through
      their black feet and be gone.

 
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Lindsay Knisely has lived in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest, among other directional permutations. She currently makes her home and garden in Santa Cruz, California. "Lake Ontario in Midwinter" explores the relationship between the remote and terrifying beauty of snow and ice and the way past events must by necessity become as stark and inert as winter itself.