Illustration: egg like a pupil in an eye-shaped nest

Surface Tension

The sky darkened midafternoon
and a gentle snowcurtain sifted
across the hillside, leaving another inch or three.

In its wake, the outside air hangs palpable
and hushed as a monk’s unheated cell.
You brought the skates last time you came up,

but now the pond is just an indent above the orchard,
plush white on white, the transition
between shore and depth an ambiguous

band of drift. No telling if we’d glide
or plunge. Marriage is moments like that.
Last summer, you stroked refreshing laps

all the humid days, but water
is complicated now, expressed
in all these crystalline forms: powder,

rime, slush, icicle,
or a skin of questionable thickness
over thirteen feet of turgid cold.

So, what makes an embraceable risk?
There is you, and ice, and this stretch of time,
and you, warm-blooded you, are worth it.

Robbie Gamble’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Slipstream, Whale Road Review, and Rust + Moth. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry prize. He divides his time between Boston and Vermont.

Nest illustration by C.B. Auder.

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