Missoula Winter: the Thaw, the Ice Floes, and the Boy

Every valley shall be filled, and every

mountain and hill shall be brought low.

In the middle of its long white sleep,

our world begins to thaw. Streets flood.

The ice around the house goes to water

which finds its own level

in my basement lodging. I lug

wet rugs up stairs that lead

to the world of air, up and down

the steps I go, dragging sodden things

to light. Tonight on the news they show

ice floes moving like dreamships

up the Clark Fork, silent and serene,

knocking out bridges, destroying homes

along the verge. A boy

from the university, track star goofing

with his girl at river’s edge, slips he

falls in and she watches him carried away

in silence, arms outstretched like wings, not

a word or sound or sign of struggle:

Neither could I move or scream, the cold

was everything, it owned us, only our eyes

were free once the rapids had him

and we locked gazes then, as if seeing

could save us, as if it were believing.

In days our world has turned to ice again

and the search for the boy is called off.

Everything hardens. At night underground

I imagine him nearby somewhere, long limbs

caught quickfrozen in a runner’s pose,

fingers reaching, hard as marble–I am

poured out, O Lord, poured

out like water
–all night I dream him

in that posture of longing, held

and stilled beneath the motion

and the industry, the unimaginable

weight of our living world.