March 26, 2012

Sharron Singleton

ICE FISHING

It was never easy—my mother’s blond
                German energy,

my father’s melancholy, black-Irish
                demons,

abiding together in the same
                small house

for fifty-five years; the endless, almost
                wordless battle

over the bottle and her uncontrollable
                cheerfulness.

The night my father died, through
                held back tears,

my mother simply said,
                I loved him.

Oh, who has words to speak of it,
                to speak

of the winters of those days when
                the lake

was always frozen, when
                my father built

an ice shanty, spudded through
                a foot of ice

to sit in the close heated shack
                as if

in the darkness of a heart’s chamber,
                to drop

a line through the hole, the red and white
                bobber floating,

skim of ice already forming. I love
                that my mother

loved this in him, his wanting to sink
                a hook

into black water, the long chilled wait,
                then to wrench

from the depths a gasp
                of bright living,

and to let what could not be snared
                be unsnared.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006