Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-seven
Spring 2015
 
THROUGH THE ICE
           -for Arlo

Paul Nelson

Singing and winging the green John Deere

down the bank and onto the ice

he lowers the dawn-shined blade

like some stoked Viking



pushes the first pass open

as if it were Spring in the Rockies,

Cameron Pass, 10,296 ft elev.,



then another push and another

shelving back the snow

to let the sun, the moon

lay cold hard silk



his voice suddenly a capella

above amazing groans and fractures

the surface beginning to tilt beneath him

cave in with grace and reasonably

taking awhile as he looks around

the house the field the past

the tractor rolling over

him aboard the man-high

inflated tires up but not enough

to keep the machine afloat

a big toy trembling down in gloom

while he waves it aside and overhead

observes shatters and plaques

of blue green glass

skid in sun sick yellow light

his boots stones

wool shirt a lead wrap

his faded red cap rising loose

like a tune



silly as he sinks to think

all he wanted was a clean sheet

for the children to skate on

and banks of neat plowed snow

to fall in laughing when they tired



It was a damn nice idea

he thinks and keeps on humming

because drowning is somewhy old

an embrionic whimsy settling

lungs all spent on bubbles

a melody’s humor

no pain in his chest no panic

his brain and simple will subsiding

sort of interested

down next to his tractor

a huge lobster on the bottom

of muddy Eden when

so sudden



an orange polyethylene line

weighted by a shovel

stiffens down beside him

and again he goes along

with “whatevah”

twists his senseless arms and hands

half live legs in the line

and blacks out hanging on



Ben his neighbor who was watching

while having coffee

ran down with a ladder to lay out

to reach the cave-in with the bright line

felt no slack and big slow weight

so hauled him up and out on the ice to shore

like a basking seal



They tell him when he comes to

she made him breathe with her mouth

her beating fists on his chest

made him cough up all that stupid water

yelling STUPID STUPID



What can he say to her anyway

now his brain’s thawed

All I wanted was a clearing



So he opens the gate and drains the pond

watching little trout and sunnies

flop and quiver still

or flood downstream like offerings

to racoon and fox and hawks

the John Deere dragged and salvaged

the crater filled again to freeze over

for the rest of dwindling winter

kids shoveling and skating skating

into Spring’s catastrophe

because it wasn’t fatal

About Paul Nelson

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