Skating With Jupiter for Agha Shahid Ali

by Douglas “Woody” Woodsum

Something there is that loves mitten piercing cold in the quiet
heart of midwinter.  The sun sinks.  Early stars flicker.  Rain
fell during the thaw last week.  The newly iced over marsh
is perfect for skating again, even with bumps and cracks.
Skate blades scrape and throw shavings.  Blown snow impinges from shore.
Not a bird in sight.  Even the crows have gone off to find
a protected perch or a fresh kill on the road: protein
to help outlast the long night.  I have not fallen once, no barked
up knee, elbow, or hip . . . no broken wrist.  My crude carving
writes a script a keen eyed soarer might imitate above
up where light fades, Jupiter shines, up where I cannot
decide grace abounds or there is none.  One way the breeze bites
my face; the other, it gives a small push.  I sit, unlace,
feel ice, feel place without a voice: the hard and crisp I love.