Over five years my surgical scar has cooled
to a pale fault line, the slow tectonics of healing,
but this morning the doctor again unscrolls an x-ray,
points to a ghostlike wisp, and repeats the word mass,
scarier even than the word shark or the word missing.
But not scarier than malignant, from malign, to speak evil of.
I hear it in the hiss through aspens as I wait for pathology,
barefoot on a balcony in a hospital gown and overcoat.
Siblings of ill children skate to the lake’s bull’s-eye
and lie on their stomachs with their ears pressed to the ice.
They listen for the groans and bone-cracks of a body
of water frozen to its core. And with the weight of pike fishers
and ptarmigans, a capsized canoe, and the kids’ warm breaths
forecasting an inevitable spring, the ice refuses, even then, to break.
Copyright © 2017 Kristin Robertson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.