Photo by Bryan Rodriguez / Unsplash

Walking on Water

Poetry Feb 6, 2023

by Cesca Ledesma

Point Beach State Park, Lake Michigan Shore, WI

i feel
ice fissure
under my feet;
the ability to crack a loaded gun in its fist.
i imagine the hexagonal crystals
immersing me in the water,
my body lowered below the thermocline,
where sturgeon save me a seat,
where a deficit of quiescence pulls me into its chest,
where lakelife make a sanctuary of the frost...
and I am but an outsider.
who would think there was anything more than subsistence in the bitter midwestern cold.
but the lakes know ice better than i,
know it as guardian,
buffer from winter’s frosty breath.
titanium schools of walleye, pike, bass,
take slow pivots to warmer lake bottom;
oxygen taken in through skin, gill, vessels, blue-brown-gold-silver warmth,
and here i am, bearing witness, even if only through a dream.

but who will watch as the ice melts
before the spring thaw,
ice and freshwater no longer locking lips
in warmer winters.
who will watch the crystals disappear,
surface water evaporate,
and blue-green algae dig their slimy hooks
into warm, turbid water;
their decomposition allowing anoxia to steal the breath from every brook trout’s lips.
and everyday i get down on my knees,
pray to some god i’m not even sure i believe exists, pray that i can keep standing on this lake surface;
the frost a white sheet
protecting the low-oxygen alive-ness
of a miraculous world
that waits patiently for the spring.