Below zero several days in a row. Half-crazy,
we dare each other to walk the frozen river.
Grabbing sticks, we slide down the bank
through knotweed tangle, hobblebush, snow;
poke at the surface, then step onto ice.
Before us, the river’s back – long and sinuous,
milky white like quartz; its mottled sky-gray
ridges, patterns of current and wind.
At first we test our footing, jab with sticks,
then, bolder, stride along its frozen spine,
ice snapping and groaning beneath our boots.
At the bend – boulders and deadfall,
brittle rings around the rocks, crackle-glaze,
and bubbles pushing against glass.
Beneath the cold, white surface, black water rages.
We come too close.
sometimes I feel I’m walking on river ice,
hear that low, hollow moan – the sound
before the crack.
Suzanne Rogier Marshall taught English to middle school students for nearly forty years, publishing several professional articles and a book on teaching poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Up North, Portage Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheets, Watershed Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Knot, a chapbook published by Porkbelly Press in 2015. A few years ago, Suzanne retired to the mountains of New Hampshire, where she enjoys canoeing with her husband, tracking bobcat, and practicing tai chi.