There is an ebbing

and a flowing

we wander in want of, muskrats

tap-tapping the ice, the ice itself

cracking, pulling

into itself, the way we do

when knowing will no longer suffice. Fifteen below,

let us sit in the snow

and sing sad songs

of kings. Let us walk,

as I have, now, into the quiet of pines,

and find beneath the breeze

turkey tracks filling, granule

by granule, with windblown

snow, and beneath the snow, like the soul

of one forever circling, like hands

clenched in mittens clenching nothing, this

walking, this seeming, this

seeing, beneath which

a whisper: It took you so long to arrive.

Thrice the pond froze, thrice they assured us

you hadn’t survived. I follow

the five-fingered tracks of raccoon

until they lead onto ice,

then tire tracks that K and back-turn

onto themselves, and then

these that fit my feet

but perfectly, my own, perhaps,

some other day, striding

then ending, leaving me

to wonder why I paused here

of all places, where the view

is obscured, the bank non-descript, a blank

of snow sketched with needles of white pine, paused

for no reason,

back now for no reason,

knowing only that here once I stopped,

stood, and decided

it was time to turn back.