“Winter Carnival in a Small Flemish Town” by Emily Fragos:
On the iced-over, metal-gray pond, skaters are held
At beautiful angles by water and air. Such suppleness
Of limbs, spines, strong knees, and light, tilting heads
To balance their spinning bodies. Two boys are facing off;
One, about to touch the other’s nerve, sure to bring fists
Or tears, is pulling back from the brink he’ll never know.
The requisite music, a man with his lute. The selling of warm ale
In clay jugs and of spicy cakes. Under a huge, white ocean of sky,
A cow with frozen udders stands right of center, gazing past us
Like a worn-out party guest, listening to the moans of the winter dead:
Take shelter, dear people. Swathe your children, bolt your doors,
And stoke y our fires. Get off that softening pond. Quick!