December 3, 2011

“Where would we go if there
Was nobody but us left on Earth?”
You asked me. I shrugged.
I told you it didn’t matter,
As long as I could hold your hand
When my final breath left me.

Even though you hated them,
I always loved your eyes. There was
Something unnaturally reassuring
About one green and one blue;
A beautiful marriage on the
Spectrum of light that took me
By surprise when I first looked
Deep into them one evening.

Neither of us had seen the signs
Warning of winter’s loose grasp
On the frosty lake two miles out
From your back porch.
It was one of those risks you take
As a teenager and then, as an
Adult with years of mistakes
Sitting regrettably under you,
You shake your head and think
My god, what were we doing?

I’ll never forget that sound:
The easy creak and the ice flow
Separating just enough that
You slipped down into the lake,
Your last breath taken in a gasp.

I dove down after you, into the
Coldest water imaginable.
It wasn’t the temperature that
Bothered me the most, I think.
It was the impenetrable silence.
Our frantic movements should
Have raised a cacophony there,
Ripping the silence into shreds,
But it was perfectly quiet.
My lungs burned as I surfaced
For the first time, and I tried to
Take enough air for both of us.
The lake had grown too murky,
Or there was some current that
Had stolen you from me, for
Once I sunk down again to look
For any sign of your struggle,
I was met with a blank canvas
Of midnight blues and greys.

The firemen said that I was lucky
To have escaped the collapse.
I didn’t scream, though I admit
The impulse was there.
All I knew was the ache of cold,
Shattering my bones and stealing
Half of every breath I took.
They found you two weeks later,
Face up against the bottom of
A thinner layer of the lake’s ice.
Your eyes were still open, and
I could see the surprise of the cold
Had consumed your final moments.

An open casket wasn’t an option,
The time underwater had not been
Kind to your pale skin. Had it not
Been for my need to identify you
I might never have seen those eyes
Ever again; one green and one blue,
Perfectly still and gazing at some
Point on the horizon, past all
That we will ever know.



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